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Full text of "If - Worlds Of Science Fiction v03n05 [Quinn] (Jul 1954) (Gorgon776)"

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METEOR HAZARDS ON THE MOON — Because the Moon has no atmos- 
phere, meteors would not burn themselves out, os they do when striking the 
Earth, presenting on ever-present ond serious menace to operations of men 
and machinery. Defense would be difficult, as some of these meteors would 
weigh several tons. The illustration above shows how an avalanche could be 
started by a sudden bombardment of "cold" meteors. Now see inside back 



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li WORLDS of SCIENCE FICTION 

JULY 1954 
All Stories New and Complete 



Editor: JAMES L. QUDJN 

Assistant Mitors: THOR L. KROGH 

EVE P. WUIFF 

Cover by Ken Fagg: The Old Spaceman's Tales 



NOVELETTES 




THE THING IN THE ATTIC by James Blish 


4 


A MONSTER NAMED SMITH by James Gunn 


52 


SHORT STORIES 




BEAUTY AND THE BEAST by Robert F. Young 


31 


THE SMALL WOKLD OF M-7S 




by Ed. M. Clinton, Jr. 


40 


LONESOME HEARTS by Russ Winterbotham 


76 


FAIR AND WARMER by E. G. von Wold 


SO 


HAS ANYBODY HERE SEEN KELLYP 




by Kenneth O'Hora 


95 


THE BIG STINK by Theodore R. Cogswell 


105 


FEATURES 




A CHAT WITH THE EDITOR 


2 


WORTH CITING 


39 


BREAKING THE TIME BARRIER by Alson J. Smith 


72 


WHAT IS YOUR SCIENCE I.Q.? 


103 


SCIENCE BRIEFS 


118 


COVER PICTORIAL: Hazards of Moon Exploration | 


by Ed Volioursky 


„,,„,,„ 1 



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EDITORIAL AND BUSINESS OFFICES, KINGSTON, NEW YORK 
Next issue on sale June 10th 




A CHAT WITH 
THE EDITOR 

TO UNDERSTAND the real factor 
that will someday make space 
travel possible, it m^ight be a good 
Idea to get yourself a lot of old 
newspapers and magazines and 
books — say about 30 or 35 years 
old— and read about the fledgling 
years of aviation. These contempo- 
rary accounts might be "ancient 
history" now, but they were written 
during the "heat of battle" and 
they're as exciting to read now as 
they were then. But let's see just 
how these dusty chronicles and for- 
gotten heroes hook up with the con- 
quest of space. 

The Wright Brothers had hardly 
made their first flight when Amer- 
ica became a scene of hell-for- 
leather experiments, wildcat races, 
air-minded promotions — and pro- 
digious smack-ups. C. P. Rogers 
made the first trans-continental 
flight In 49 days. It took him seven 
days to cross New York State alone. 



and when he landed in Pasadena 
the only parts left of his original 
plane were the rudder and the oil 
pan ; everything else had been 
busted and replaced en route. 

Then came the First World War 
and the first test of aviation in com- 
bat. The men who flew the "Jen- 
nies" of that era were the glamor 
boys of war fiction and fact. There 
was Eddie Rickenbacker, ace of 
the American birdmen; there was 
Bishop of Canada; there was the 
fabulous Red Knight of Germany^ 
Baron Von Richtofen and others. 
And — there was the man who did 
more for military aviation in the 
U.S. than any other figure of his 
time: William L. "Billy" Mitchell, 
who waged a one-man war with all 
the brass of the United States Army 
and Navy in his efforts to gel them 
to accept the fact that air power 
was the thing of the future. He 
finally won his battle and he was 
awarded the Congressional Medal 
of Honor — both posthumously, 
ironically enough. 

Before the peace treaty of the 
first great war was signed, Captain 
John Alcock, an Englishman, and 
Lieutenant Arthur Brown, an 
American, made the first non-stop 
trans-Atlantic flight, from New- 
foundland to Ireland, 1980 miles In 
16 hours, 12 minutes. This was on 
June 15, 1919, and the 1920's 
ushered in an era of barnstorming 
that took on the ballyhoo and brass 
of a carnival. Restless, reckless, 
pilots stunted anywhere they could 
get a permit or an audience ; acro- 
bats performed on the wings and 
landing gear of planes two or three 
thousand feet in the air; follies girls 
went aloft over the Great Lakes for 
tea; couples got hitched while fly- 



ing over their home towns or some- 
where else. It was the "era of won- 
derful non.scnse" and aviation was 
using every gimmick in the book to 
make the public air-minded and 
convince folks it was safe to travel 
via plane. 

BUT STILL, the spark necessary to 
set off the emotions and imagina- 
tion of the world was yet to come. 
Somehow, to me, it seems that the 
spark which started aviation on the 
serious and commercially sound 
phase of its history came when a 
lonely pilot in a little single-mo- 
tored monoplane flew the Atlantic. 
It was on a gray, misty dawn of a 
May 27 years ago when Charles 
Lindbergh, a young mail pilot, 
lifted "the Spirit of St. Louis" off 
Roosevelt Field on Long Island and 
set it down 33 /a hours and 3,600 
miles later on Le Bourget Field in 
Paris. 

A few days before Lindbergh's 
flight, Nungesser and Coli, two 
Frenchmen, had tried a westward 
flight and had crashed and been 
lost in the Atlantic. A couple of 
weeks afterwards, Clarence Cham- 
berlain flew from New York to Ber- 
lin. A few days later Admiral Byrd 
crashed off the French coast. And 
the procession was on! Within a 
few months, Amelia Earhart be- 
came the first woman to fly the At- 
lantic; Coste and Bellonte made the 
first westward crossing, then there 
were Charles Kingsford-Smith, 
"Wrongway" Corrigan and others. 
Flying the Atlantic became a fever, 
and after that came the Pacific. 
Then Post and Gatty flew around 
the world and Admiral Byrd flew 
to the South Pole. The young wings 
of aviation had been tested and 



they were strong. 

As we go through the musty 
racks of newspapers for the Thirties 
we find that aviation Is still a 
*'hogger" of the front pages. On 
August 1, 1934, all existing records 
for a transport craft were broken 
by a Sikorsky seaplane which aver- 
aged 157.5 miles per hour over a 
1242.8 mile course. There was 
Jimmy Doolittle and his pile of 
speed records ; and names like 
Glenn Martin, Alexander P. de 
Seversky, Howard Hughes, Frank 
Hawks, Hugo Eckener, Count Von 
Zeppelin, Glenn Curtiss and others 
loomed big in the headlines. The 
Army and the Navy were fast con- 
quering the Pacific, while some- 
where out there Amelia Earhart, 
Sir Kingsford-Smith and others 
were lost. 

AVIATION during the Thirties 
made tremendous strides. But there 
were blunders, too, and the prize 
blunder, which did national morale 
no good at all, was made by the 
Administration or Congress or 
somebody in Washington who got 
mad at the private airlines. With- 
out preparation or advance notice 
the Army was ordered to take care 
of the airmail. The young pilots, 
with only a few hours briefing on 
night flying, knew what they were 
in for, but they took over and flew 
the mail In an assortment of ships 
never intended for the task. They 
didn't even have proper mainte- 
nance for their ships, nor did they 
have decent facilities for rest or 
food between flights. And during 
the winter of 1933-34 they carried 
the mail, night and day, over 
strange routes in "peashooters", cb- 
(Continued on page 120) 




THE THIIVB 



Honatk and his fellow arch-doubters did not be- 
lieve in the Giajits, and for this they were cast 
into Hell. And when survival depended upon un- 
wavering faith in their beliefs, they saw that there 
were Giants, after all , . , 



By James Blish 

Illustrated by Paul Orbon 




IN THE ATTIC 



It is written that after the Giants 
came to Telhira from the far stars, 
they abode a while, and looked up- 
on the surface of the land, and 
found it wanting, and of evil omen. 
Therefore did they make men to 
live akvays in the air and in the sun- 
light, and in the light of the stars, 
that he wotild be reminded of them. 
And the Giants abode yet a while, 
and taught men to speak, and to 
write, and to weave, and to do 
many things which are needful to 
do, of which the writings speak. 



And thereafter they departed to the 
far stars, saying. Take this world as 
your ozvn, and though we shall re- 
turn, fear not, for it is yours. 

^THE BOOK OF LAWS 



HONATH the Pursemaker was 
hauled from the nets an hour 
before the rest of the prisoners, as 
befitted his role as the arch -doubter 
of them all. It was not yet dawn, but 
his captors led him in great bounds 
through the endless, musky-per- 



JAMES BLISH 



fumed orchid gardens, small dark 
shapes with crooked legs, hunched 
shoulders, slim hairless tails carried, 
like his, in concentric spirals- wound 
clockwise. Behind them sprang 
Honath on the end of a long tether, 
timing his leaps by theirs, since any 
slip would hang him summarily. 

He would of course be on his way 
to the surface, some 250 feet below 
the orchid gardens, shortly after 
dawn in any event. But not even the 
arch-doubter of them all wanted to 
begin the trip — not even at the mer- 
ciful snap-spine end of a tether — 
a moment before the law said. Go. 

The looping, interwoven network 
of vines beneath them, each cable 
as thick through as a man's body, 
bellied out and down sharply as the 
leapers reached the edge of the 
fern-tree forest which surrounded 
the copse of fan-palms. The whole 
party stopped before beginning the 
descent and looked eastward, across 
the dim bowl. The stars were paling 
more and more rapidly ; only the 
bright constellation of the Parrot 
could still be picked out without 
doubt. 

"A fine day," one of the guards 
said, conversationally. "Better to go 
below on a sunny day than in the 
rain^ purseinaker," 

Honath shuddered and said noth- 
ing. Of course it was always rain- 
ing down below in Hell, that much 
could be seen by a child. Even on 
sunny days, the endless pinpoint 
rain of transpiration, from the hun- 
dred million leaves of the eternal 
trees, hazed the forest air and 
soaked the black bog forever. 

He looked around in the bright- 
ening, misty morning. The eastern 
horizon was black against the limb 



of the great red sun, which had al- 
ready risen about a third of its di- 
ameter; it was almost time for the 
.small, blue-white, furiously hot con- 
sort to follow. All the way to that 
brink, as to every other horizon,, 
the woven ocean of the treetops 
flowed gently in long, unbreaking 
waves, featureless as some smooth 
oil. Only nearby could the eye 
break that ocean into its details, in- 
to the world as it was: a great, 
many-tiered network, thickly over- 
grown with small ferns, with air- 
drinking orchids, with a thousand 
varieties of fungi sprouting wher- 
ever vine crossed vine and collected 
a little humus for them, with the 
vivid parasites sucking sap from the 
vines, the trees, and even each 
other. In the ponds of rain-water 
collected by the closely fitting leaves 
of the bromelaids, tree-toads and 
peepers stopped down their hoarse 
songs dubiously as the light, grew 
and fell silent one by one. In the 
trees below the world, the tentative 
morning screeches of the lizard- 
birds — the souls of the damned, or 
the devils who hunted them, no one 
was quite sure which — took up the 
concert. 

A small gust of wind whipped out 
of tlie hollow above the glade of 
fan-palms, making the network un- 
der the party shift slightly, as if in a 
loom. Honath gave with it easily, 
automatically, but one of the 
smaller vines toward which he had 
moved one furless hand hissed at 
him and went pouring away into 
the darkness beneath- — a chloro- 
phyll-green snake, come up out of 
the dripping aerial pathways in 
which it hunted in ancestral gloom, 
to greet the suns and dry its scales 



THE THING IN THE ATTIC 



in the quiet moming. Farther be- 
low, an astonished monkey, routed 
out of its bed by the disgusted ser- 
pent, sprang into another tree, reel- 
ing off ten mortal insults, one after 
the other, while still in mid-leap. 
The snake, of course, paid no atten- 
tion, since it did not speak the lan- 
guage of men ; but the party on the 
edge of the glade of fan-palms 
snickered appreciatively. 

"Bad language they favor below," 
another of the guards said. "A fit 
place for you and your blasphemers, 
pursemaker. Gome now."^ 

The tether at Honath's neck 
twitched, and then his captors were 
soaring in zig-zag bounds down into 
the hollow toward the Judgment 
Seat. He followed, since he had no 
choice, the tether threatening con- 
stantly to fou! his arms, legs or tail, 
and — worse, far worse — making his 
every mortifying movement un- 
graceful. Above, the Parrot's starry 
plumes flickered and faded into 
the general blue. 

Toward the center of the saucer 
above the grove, the stitched leaf- 
and-leather houses clustered thickly, 
bound to the vines themselves, or 
hanging from an occasional branch 
too high or too slender to bear the 
vines. Many of these purses Honath 
knew well, not only as visitor but as 
artisan. The finest of them, the in- 
verted flowers which opened auto- 
matically as the moming dew 
bathed them, yet which could be 
closed tightly and safely around 
their occupants at dusk by a single 
draw-string, were his own design 
as well as his own handiwork. They 
had been widely admired and imi- 
tated. 

The reputation that they had 



given him, too, had helped to bring 
him to the end of the snap-spine 
tether. They had given weight to 
his words among others — weight 
enough to make him, at last, the 
arch-doubter, the man who leads 
the young into blasphemy, the man 
who questions the Book of Laws. 

And they had probably helped to 
win him his passage on the Elevator 
to Hell. 

The purses were already opening 
as the party swung among them. 
Here and there, sleepy faces blinked 
out from amid the exfoliating sec- 
tions, criss-crossed by relaxing 
lengths of dew-soaked rawhide. 
Some of the awakening household- 
ers recogni7cd Honath, of that he 
was sure, but none came out to fol- 
low the party — though the villagers 
should be beginning to drop from 
the hearts of their stitched flowers 
like ripe seed-pods by this hour of 
any normal day. 

A Judgment was at hand, and 
they knew it — and even those who 
had slept the night in one of Ho- 
nath's finest houses would not 
speak for him now. Everyone knew, 
after aJl, that Honath did not be- 
lieve in the Giants. 

Honath could see the Judgment 
Seat itself now, a slung chair of 
woven cane crowned along the back 
with a row of gigantic mottled 
orchids. These had supposedly been 
transplanted there when the chair 
was made, but no one could re- 
member how old they were; .since 
there were no seasons, there was no 
particular reason why they should 
not have been there forever. The 
Seat itself was at the back of the 
arena and high above it, but in 
the gathering light. Honath could 



8 



JAMES BLISH 



make out the white-furred face of 
the Tribal Spokesman, like a lone 
silver-and-black pansy among the 
huge vivid blooms. 

At the center of the arena proper 
was the Elevator itself. Honath had 
seen it often enough, and had him- 
self witnessed judgments where it 
was called into use, but he could 
still hardly believe that he was al- 
most surely to be its next passenger. 
It consisted of nothing more than a 
large basket, deep enough so that 
one would have to leap out of it, 
and rimmed with thorns to prevent 
one from leaping back in. Three 
hempen ropes were tied to its rim, 
and were then cunningly inter- 
wound on a single-drum windlass of 
wood, which could be turned by 
two men even when the basket was 
loaded. 

The procedure was equally sim- 
ple. The condemned man was 
forced into the basket, and the bas- 
ket lowered out of sight, until the 
slackening of the ropes indicated 
that it had touched the surface. 
The victim climbed out — and if he 
did not, the basket remained below 
until he starved or until Hel! other- 
wise took care of its own — and the 
windlass was rewound. 

The sentences were for varying 
periods of time, according to the 
severity of the crime, but in practi- 
cal terms this formality was empty. 
Although the basket was dutifully 
lowered when the sentence had ex- 
pired, no one had ever been known 
to get back into it. Of course, in a 
world without seasons or moons, 
and hence without any but an arbi- 
trary year, long periods of time are 
not easy to count accurately. The 
basket could arrive thirty or forty 



days to one side or the other of the 
proper date. But this was only a 
technicality, however, for if keep- 
ing time was difficult in the attic 
world it was probably impossible 
in Hell. 

Honath's guards tied the free end 
of his tether to a branch and settled 
down around him. One abstractedly 
passed a pine cone to him and he 
tried to occupy his mind with the 
business of picking the juicy seeds 
from it, but somehow they had no 
flavor. 

More captives were being 
brought in now, while the Spokes- 
man watched with glittering black 
eyes from his high perch. There was 
Mathild the Forager, shivering as if 
with ague, the fur down her left 
side glistening and spiky, as though 
she had inadvertently overturned a 
tank plant on herself. After her was 
brought Alaskon the Navigator, a 
middle-aged man only a few years 
younger than Honath himself; he 
was tied up next to Honath, where 
he settled down at once, chewing at 
a joint of cane with apparent indif- 
ference. 

Thus far, the gathering had pro- 
ceeded without more than a few 
words being spoken, but that ended 
when the guards tried to bring Seth 
the Needlesmith from the nets. He 
could be heard at once, over the 
entire distance to the glade, alter- 
nately chattering and shrieking in 
a mixture of tones that might mean 
either fear or fury. Everyone in the 
glade but Alaskon turned to look, 
and heads emerged from purses Hkc 
new butterflies from cocoons. 

A moment later, Seth's guards 
came over the lip of the glade in a 
tangled group, now shouting them- 



THE THING IN THE ATTIC 



selves. Somewhere in the middle of 
the knot Seth's voice became still 
louder; obviously he was clinging 
with all five members to any vine or 
frond he could grasp, and was no 
sooner pried loose from one than 
he would leap by main force, back- 
wards if possible, to another. Never- 
theless he was being brought inex- 
orably down into the arena, two 
fuet forward, one foot back, three 
feet forward . . . 

Honath's guards resumed picking 
their pine-cones. During the dis- 
turbance, Honath rcali2cd, Charl 
the Reader had been brought in 
quietly from the same side of the 
gladc. He now sat opposite Alaskon, 
looking apathetically down at the 
vine-web, his shoulders hunched 
forward. He exuded despair; even 
to look at him made Honath feel a 
renewed shudder. 

From the High Seat, the Spokes- 
man said : "Honath the Pursemak- 
er, Alaskon the Navigator, Charl 
the Reader, Seth the Needlesmith 
Mathild the Forager, you are called 
to answer to justice." 

"Justice!" Setli shouted, spring- 
ing free of his captors with a tre- 
mendous bound and bringing up 
with a jerk on the end of his tether. 
"This is no justice! I have nothing 
to do with — " 

The guards caught up with him 
and clamped brown hands firmly 
over his mouth. The Spokesman 
watched with amiuscd malice. 

"The accusations are three," the 
Spokesman said. "The first, the tell- 
ing of lies to children. Second, the 
casting into doubt of the divine or- 
der among men. Third, the denial 
of the Book of Laws. Each of you 
may speak in order of age. Honath 



the Purseniaker, your plea may be 
heard." 

Honath stood up, trembling a lit- 
tle, but feeling a surprLsingly re- 
newed surge of his old independ- 
ence. 

"Your charges," he said, "all rest 
upon the denial of the Book of 
Laws. I have taught nothing else 
that is contrary to what we all be- 
lieve, and called nothing else into 
doubt. And I deny the charge.'* 

The Spokesman looked down at 
him with disbelief. "Many men and 
women have said that you do not 
believe in the Giants, pursemaker," 
he said. "You will not win mercy by 
piling up more lies." 

"I deny the charge," Honath in- 
sisted. "I believe in the Book of 
Laws as a whole, and I believe in 
the Giants. I have taught only that 
the Giants were not real in the sense 
that we are real. I have taught that 
they were intended as symbols of 
some higher reality and were not 
meant to be taken as literal per- 
sons." 

"What higher reality is this?" the 
Spoilsman demanded. "Describe 
it." 

"You ask me to do something the 
writers of the Book of Laws them- 
selves couldn't do," Honath said 
hotly. "If they had to embody the 
reality in symbols ratlier than writ- 
ing it down directly, how could a 
mere pursemaker do better?" 

"This doctrine is wind." the 
Spokesman said. "And it is plainly 
intended to undercut authority and 
the order established by the Book. 
Tell nne, pursemaker: if men need 
not fear the Giants, why should they 
fear the law?" 

"Because they are men, and it is 



10 



JAMES BLISH 



to their interest to fear the law. 
They aren't children, who need 
some physical Giant sitting over 
them with a whip to make them be- 
have. Furthermore, Spokesman, this 
archaic belief itself undermines us. 
As long as we believe that there are 
real Giants, and that some day 
they'll return and resume teaching 
us, so long will we fail to seek an- 
swers to our questions for ourselves. 
Half of what we know was given to 
us in the Book, and the other half is 
supposed to drop to us from the 
skies if we wait long enough. In the 
meantime, we vegetate." 

"If a part of the Book be untrue, 
there can be nothing to prevent that 
it is all untrue," the Spokesman said 
heavily. "And we will lose even 
what you call the half of our knowl- 
edge — which is actually the whole 
of it — to those who see with clear 
eyes." 

Suddenly, Honath lost his tem- 
per. "Lose it, then!" he shouted. 
"Let us unlearn everything we 
know only by rote, go back to the 
beginning, learn all over again, and 
continue to learn, from our own ex- 
perience. Spokesman, you are an 
old man, but there are still some of 
US' who haven't forgotten what curi- 
osity means!" 

"Quiet!" the Spokesman said. 
"We have heard enough. We call 
on Alaskon the Navigator." 

"Much of the Book is clearly un- 
true," Alaskon said flatly, rising. 
"As a handbook of small trades it 
has served us well. As a guide to 
how the universe is made, it is non- 
sense, in my opinion; Honath is too 
kind to it. I've made no secret of 
what I think, and I still think it." 

"And will pay for it," the Spokes- 



man said, blinking slowly down at 
Alaskon. "Charl the Reader." 

"Nothing," Charl said, without 
standing, or even looking up. 

"You do not deny the charges?" 

"I've nothing to say," Charl said, 
but then, abruptly, his head jerked 
up, and he glared with desperate 
eyes at the Spokesman. "I can read, 
Spokesman. I have seen words in 
the Book of Laws that contradict 
each other. I've pointed them out. 
They're facts, they exist on the 
pages. I've taught nothing, told no 
lies, preached no unbelief. I've 
pointed to the facts. That's all." 

"Seth the Needlesmith, you may 
speak now," 

The guards ■ took their hands 
gratefully off Seth's mouth; they 
had been bitten several times in the 
process of keeping him quiet up to 
now. Seth resumed shouting at once. 

"I'm no part of this group! I'm 
the victim of gossip, envious neigh- 
bors, smiths jealous of my skill and 
my custom! No man can say worse 
of me than that I sold needles to 
this purcsmaker — sold them in good 
faith! The charges against me are 
lies, all lies!" 

Honath jumped to his feet in 
fury, and then sat down again, 
choking back the answering shout 
almost without tasting its bitterness. 
What did it matter? Why should he 
bear witness again=it the young 
man? It would not help the others, 
and if Seth wanted to lie his way 
out of Hell, he might as well be 
given the chance. 

The Spokesman was looking 
down at Seth with the identical ex- 
pression of outraged disbelief which 
he had first bent upon Honath. 
"Who was it cut the blasphemies 



THE THING IN THE ATTIG 



n 



into the hardwood tree, by the 
house of Hosi the Lawgiver?" he 
demanded. "Sharp needles were at 
■work there, and there are witnesses 
to say that your hands held them." 

"More lies!" 

"Needles found in your house fit 
the furrows, Seth." 

"They were not mine — or tliey 
were stolen! I demand to be freed!" 

"You will be freed," the Spokes- 
man said coldly. There was no pos- 
sible doubt as to what he meant. 
Seth began to weep and to shout at 
the same time. Hands closed over 
his mouth again. "Mathild the For- 
ager, your plea may be heard." 

The young woman stood up hesi- 
tantly. Her fur was nearly dry now, 
but she was still shivering. 

"Spokesman," she said, "I saw 
the things which Charl the Reader 
showed me. I doubted, but what 
Honath said restored my belief. I 
see no harm in his teachings. They 
remove doubt, instead of fostering 
it as you say they do. I see no evil 
in them, and I don't understand 
why this is a crime." 

Honath looked over to her with 
new admiration. The Spokesman 
sighed heavily. 

"I am sorry for you," he said, 
"but as Spokesman we cannot al- 
low ignorance of the law as a plea. 
We will be merciful to you all, how- 
ever. Renounce your heresy, affirm 
your belief in the Book as it is writ- 
ten from bark to bark, and you shall 
be no more than cast out of the 
tribe." 

"I renounce it!" Seth cried. "I 
never shared it! It's all blasphemy 
and every word is a lie ! I believe in 
the Book, all of it!" 

"You, needlesmith," the Spokes- 



man said, "have lied before this 
Judgment, and are probably lying 
now. You are not included in the 
dispensation.*' 

"Snake-spotted caterpillar! May 
your — ummulph." 

"Pursemakcr, what is your an- 
swer?" 

"It is No," Honath said stonily. 
"I've spoken the truth. The truth 
can't be unsaid." 

The Spokesman looked down at 
the rest of them. "As for you three, 
consider your answers carefully. To 
share the heresy means sharing the 
sentence. The penalty will not be 
lightened only because you did not 
invent the heresy." 

There was a long silence. 

Honath swallowed hard. The 
courage and the faith in that silence 
made him feel smaller and more 
helpless than ever. He reali2ed sud- 
denly that the other three would 
have kept that silence, even with- 
out Seth's defection to stiffen their 
spines. He wondered if he could 
have done so. 

"Then we pronounce the sen- 
tence," the Spokesman said. "You 
are one and all condemned to one 
thousand days in Hell." 

There was a concerted gasp from 
around the edges of the arena, 
where, without Honath's having no- 
ticed it before, a silent crowd had 
gathered. He did not wonder at the 
sound. The sentence was the longest 
in the history of the tribe. 

Not that it really meant anything. 
No one had ever come back from 
as little as one hundred days in 
Hell. No one had ever come back 
from Hell at all. 

"Unlash the Elevator. All shall go 
together." 



12 



JAMES BLISH 



THE BASKET swayed. The last 
of the attic world that Honath 
saw was a circle of faces, not too 
close to the gap in the vine web, 
peering down after them. Then the 
basket fell another few yards to 
the next turn of the windlass 
and the faces vanished. 

Seth was weeping in the bottom 
of the Elevator, curled up into a 
tight ball, the end of his tail 
wrapped around his nose and eyes. 
No one else could make a sound, 
least of Honath. 

The gloom closed around them. 
It seemed extraordinarily still. The 
occasional harsh screams of a lizard- 
bird somehow distended the silence 
without breaking it. The light that 
filtered down into the long aisles 
between the trees seemed to be ab- 
sorbed in a blue-green haze through 
which the lianas wove their long 
curved lines. The columns of tree- 
trunks, the pillars of the world, 
stood all around them, too distant 
in the dim light to allow them to 
gauge their speed of descent. Only 
the irregular plunges of the basket 
proved that it was even in motion 
any longer, though it swayed lat- 
erally in a complex, overlapping 
series of figure-eights. 

Then the basket lurched down- 
ward once more, brought up short, 
and tipped sidewise, tumbling them 
all against the hard cane. Mathild 
cried out in a thin voice, and Seth 
uncurled almost instantly, clawing 
for a handhold. Another lurch, and 
the Elevator lay down on its side 
and was still. 

They were in Hell. 

Cautiously, Honath began to 
climb out, picking his way over the 
long thorns on the basket's rim. 



After a moment, Charl the Reader 
followed, and then Alaskon took 
Mathild firmly by the hand and led 
her out onto the surface. The foot- 
ing was wet and spongy, yet not at 
all resilient, and it felt cold; Ho- 
nath's toes curled involuntarily. 

"Come on, Seth," Charl said in a 
hushed voice. "They won't haul it 
back up until we're all out. You 
know tliat." 

Alaskon looked around into the 
chilly mists. "Yes," he said. "And 
we'll need a needlesmith down here. 
With good tools, there's just a 
chance — " 

Seth's eyes had been darting back 
and forth from one to the other. 
With a sudden chattering scream, 
he bounded out of the bottom of 
the basket, soaring ovef their heads 
in a long, flat leap and struck the 
high knee at the base of the nearest 
tree, an immense fan palm. As he 
hit, his legs doubled under him, and 
almost in the same motion he 
seemed to rocket straight up into 
the murky air. 

Gaping, Honath looked up after 
him. The young needlesmith had 
timed his course to the split second. 
He was already darting up the rope 
from which the' Elevator was sus- 
pended. He did not even bother to 
look back. 

After a moment, the basket 
tipped upright. The impact of 
Seth's weight hitting the rope evi- 
dently had been taken by the wind- 
lass team to mean that the con- 
demned people were all out on the 
surface; a twitch on the rope was 
the usual signal. The basket began 
to rise, hobbling and dancing. Its 
speed of ascent, added to Seth's 
took his racing, dwindling figure 



THE THING IN THE ATTIC 



13 



out of sight quickly. After a while, 
the basket was gone, too. 

"He'll never get to the top," Ma- 
thild whispered. "It's too far, and 
he's going too fast. He'U lose 
strength and fall." 

"I don't think so," Alaskon said 
heavily. "He's agile and strong. If 
anyone could make it, he could." 

"They'll kill him if he docs." 

"Of course they will," Alaskon 
said, shrugging. 

"I won't miss him," Honath said. 

"No more will I. But we could 
use some sharp needles down here, 
Honath. Now we'll have to plan to 
make our own — if we can identify 
the difTerent woods, down here 
where there aren't any leaves to 
help us tell them apart." 

Honath looked at the navigator 
curiously. Seth's bolt for the sky 
had distracted him from the realiza- 
tion that the basket, too, was gone, 
but now that desolate fact hit 
home. "You actually plan to stay 
alive in Hell, don't you, Alaskon?" 

"Certainly," Alaskon said calm- 
ly. "This is no more Hell than — up 
there — is Heaven. It's the surface of 
the planet, no more, no less. We 
can stay alive if we don't panic. 
Were you just going to sit here un- 
til tlie furies came for you, Ho- 
nath?" 

"I hadn't thought much about 
it," Honath confessed. "But if there 
is any chance that Seth will lose his 
grip on that rope — before he 
reaches the top and they stab him — 
shouldn't we wait and see if we can 
catch him? He can't weigh more 
than 35 pounds. Maybe we could 
contrive some sort of a net — " 

"He'd just break our bones along 
with his," Charl said. "I'm for get- 



ting out of here as fast as possible." 

"What for? Do you know a bet- 
ter place?" 

"No, but whether this is Hell or 
not, there are demons down here. 
We've all seen them from up above. 
They must know that the Elevator 
always lands here and empties out 
free food. This must be a feeding- 
ground for them — " 

He had not quite finished speak- 
ing when the branches began to 
sigh and toss, far above. A gust of 
stinging droplets poured along the 
blue air and thunder rumbled. Ma- 
thild whimpered. 

"It's only a squall coming up," 
Honath said. But the words came 
out in a series of short croaks. As 
the wind had moved through the 
trees, Hon ath had automa tically 
flexed his knees and put his arras 
out for handholds, awaiting the 
long wave of response to pass 
through the ground beneath him. 
But nothing happened. The surface 
under his feet remained stolidly 
where it was, flexing not a fraction 
of an inch in any direction. And 
there was nothing nearby for his 
hands to grasp. 

He staggered, trying to compen- 
sate for the failure of the ground 
to move. At the same moment an- 
other gust of wind blew through the 
aisles, a little stronger than the 
first, and calling insistently for a 
new adjustment of his body to the 
waves which would be passing 
among the treetops. Again the 
squashy surface beneath him re- 
fused to respond. The familiar give- 
and-take of the vine-web to the 
winds, a part of his world as accus- 
tomed as the winds themselves, was 
gone. 



J4 



JAMES BLISH 



Honath was forced to sit down, 
feeling distinctly ill. The damp^ cool 
earth under his furlcss buttocks was 
unpleasant, but he could not have 
remained standing any longer with- 
out losing his meagre prisoner's 
breakfast. One grappling hand 
caught hold of the ridged, gritting 
stems of a clump of horsetail, but 
the contact failed to allay the un- 
easiness. 

The others seemed to be bearing 
it no better than Honath. Mathild 
in particular was rocking dizzily, 
her lips compressed, her hands 
clasped to her delicate ears. 

Dizziness. It was unheard of up 
above, except among those who had 
suffered grave head injuries or were 
otherwise very ill. But on the mo- 
tionless ground of Hell, it was evi- 
dently going to be with them con- 
stantly. 

Charl squatted, swallowing con- 
vulsively. "I — I can't stand," he 
moaned. 

"Nonsense !"Alaskon saidj though 
he had remained standing only by 
clinging to the huge, mud-colored 
bulb of a cycadella. "It's just a dis- 
turbance of our sense of balance. 
We'll get used to it." 

"We'd better," Honath said, re- 
linquishing his grip on the horse- 
tails by a sheer act of will. "I think 
Charl's right about this being a 
feeding-ground, Alaskon. I hear 
something moving around in the 
ferns. And if this rain lasts long, the 
water will rise here, too. I've seen 
silver flashes from down here many 
a time after heavy rains." 

"That's right." Mathild said, her 
voice subdued. "The base of the 
fan-palm grove always floods. That's 
why the treetops are lower there," 



The wind seemed to have let up 
a little, though the rain was still 
falling. Alaskon stood up tentative- 
ly and looked around. 

"Then let's move on," he said. 
"If we try to keep under cover un- 
til we get to higher ground — " 

A faint crackling sound, high 
above his head, interrupted him. 
It got louder. Feeling a sudden 
spasm of pure fear, Honath looked 
up. 

Nothing could be seen for an in- 
stant but the far-away curtain of 
branches and fern fronds. TheUj 
with shocking suddenness, some- 
thing plummeted through the blue- 
green roof and came tumbling to- 
ward them. It was a man, twisting 
and tumbling through the air with 
grotesque slowness, like a child 
turning in its sleep. They scattered. 

The body hit the ground with a 
sodden thump, but there were sharp 
overtones to the sound, like the 
bursting of a gourd. For a moment 
nobody moved. Then Honath crept 
forward. 

It had been Seth, as Honath had 
realized the moment the figurine 
had burst through the branches, far 
above. But it had not been the fall 
that had killed him. He had been 
run through by at least a dozen 
needles — some of them, beyond 
doubt, tools from his own shop, 
their points edged hair-fine by his 
own precious strops of leatherwood- 
bark. 

There would be no reprieve from 
above. The sentence was one thou- 
sand days. This burst and broken 
huddle of fur was the only alterna- 
tive. 

And the first day had barely be- 
gun. 



THE THING IN THE ATTIC 



IS 



THEY TOILED all the rest of 
the day to reach higher ground. 
As they stole cautiously closer to the 
foothills of the Great Range and 
the ground became firmer, they 
were able to take to the air for short 
stretches, but they were no sooner 
aloft among the willows than the 
lizard-birds came squalling down 
on them by the dozens, fighting 
among each other for the privilege 
of nipping these plump and incredi- 
bly slow-moving monkeys. 

No man^ no matter how con- 
firmed a free-thinker, could have 
stood up under such an onslaught 
by the creatures he had been taught 
as a child to think of as his ances- 
tors. The first time it happened, 
every member of the party dropped 
like a pinc-cone to the sandy ground 
and lay paralyzed under the nearest 
cover, until the brindle-feathered, 
fan-tailed screamers tired of flying 
in such tight circles and headed for 
clearer air. Even after the lizard- 
birds had given Up, they crouched 
quietly for a long time, waiting to 
see what greater demons might have 
been attracted by the commotLon. 

Luckily, on the higher ground 
there was much more cover from 
low-growing shrubs and trees — pal- 
metto, sassafras, several kinds of 
laurel, magnolia, and a great many 
sedges. Up here, too, the endless 
jungle began to break around the 
bases of the great pink cliffs. Over- 
head were welcome vistas of open 
sky, skctchily crossed by woven 
bridges leading from the vine-world 
to the cliffs themselves. In the inter- 
vening columns of blue air a whole 
hierarchy of flying creatures ranked 
themselves, layer by layer. First, the 
low-flying beetles, bees and two- 



winged insects. Next were the drag- 
onflies which hunted them, some 
with wingsprcads as wide as two 
feet. Then the lizard-birds, hunting 
the dragonfiies and anything else 
that could be nipped without fight- 
ing back. And at last, far above, the 
great gliding reptiles coasting along 
the brows of the cliffs, riding the 
rising currents of air. their long- 
jawed hunger stalking anything 
that flew — as they sometimes stalked 
the birds of the attic world, and the 
flying fish along the breast of the 
distant sea. 

The party halted in an especially 
thick clump of sedges. Though the 
rain continued to fall, harder than 
ever, they were all desperately 
thirsty. They had yet to find a sin- 
gle bromelaid; evidently the tank- 
plants did not grow in Hell. Cup- 
ping their hands to the weeping sky 
accumulated surprisingly little wa- 
ter; and no puddles large enough 
to drink from accumulated on the 
sand. But at least, here under the 
open sky, there was too much fierce 
struggle in the air to allow the liz- 
ard-birds to congregate and squall 
about their hiding place. 

The white sun had already set 
and the red sun 's vast arc stil I 
bulged above the horizon. In the 
lurid glow the rain looked like 
blood, and the seamed faces of the 
pink cliffs had all but vanished. 
Honath peered dubiously out from 
under the sedges at the still dis- 
tant escarpments. 

"I don't see how we can hope to 
climb those," he said, in a low voice. 
"That kind of limestone crumbles 
as soon as you touch it, otherwise 
we*d have had better luck with our 
war against the clifF tribe.*' 



16 



JAMES BUSH 



"We could go around the cUffs," 
Charl said. "The foothills of the 
Great Range aren't very steep. If 
we could last until we get to them, 
we could go on up into the Range 
itself." 

"To the volcanoes !" Mathild pro- 
tested. "But nothing can live up 
there, nothing but the white fire- 
things. And there are the lava-fiows, 
too, and the choking smoke — " 

"Well, we can't climb these clifTs, 
Honath's quite right," Alaskon said. 
"And we can't climb the Basalt 
Steppes, either — there's nothing to 
eat along them, let alone any water 
or cover. I don't see what else we 
can do but try to get up into the 
foothills." 

"Can't we stay here?" Mathild 
said plaintively. 

"No," Honath said, even more 
gently than he had intended. Ma- 
thild's four words were, he knew, 
the most dangerous words in Hell — 
he knew it quite surely, because of 
the imprisoned creature inside him 
that cried out to say "Yes" instead. 
"We have to get out of the country 
of the demons. And maybe — just 
maybe — if we can cross the Great 
Range, we can join a tribe that 
hasn't heard about our being con- 
demned to Hell. There are sup- 
posed to be tribes on the other side 
of the Range, but the cliff people 
would never let our folk get through 
to them. That's on our side now." 

"That's true," Alaskon said, 
brightening a little. "And from the 
top of the Range, we could come 
down into another tribe — instead 
of trying to climb up into their vil- 
lage out of Hell. Honath, I think 
it might work." 

"Then we'd better try to sleep 



right here and now," Charl said. "It 
seems safe enough. If we're going 
to skirt the cliffs and climb those 
foothills, we'll need all the strength 
we've got left." 

Honath was about to protest, but 
he was suddenly too tired to care. 
Why not sleep it over? And if in 
the night they were found and taken 
— well, that would at least put an 
end to the struggle. 

It was a cheerless and bone-damp 
bed to sleep in, but there was no 
alternative. They curled up as best 
they could. Just before he was about 
to drop off at last, Honath heard 
Mathild whimpering to herself and, 
on impulse, crawled over to her and 
began to smooth down her fur with 
his tongue. To his astonishment 
each separate, silky hair was loaded 
with dew. Long before the girl had 
curled herself more tightly and her 
complaints had dwindled into 
sleepy murmurs, Honath's thirst 
was assuaged. He reminded himself 
to mention the method in the morn- 
ing. 

But when the white sun finally 
came up, there was no time to think 
of thirst. Charl the Reader was 
gone. Something had plucked him 
from their huddled midst as neatly 
as a fallen breadfruit — and had 
dropped his cleaned ivory skull just 
as negligently, some two hundred 
feet farther on up the slope which 
led toward the pink cliffs. 



LATE THAT afternoon, the 
three found the blue, turbulent 
stream flowing out of the foothills 
of the Great Range. Not even Alas- 
kon knew quite what to make of it. 
It looked like water, but it flowed 



THE THING IN THE ATTIC 



17 



like the rivers of lava that crept 
downward from the volcanoes. 
Whatever else it could be, obviously 
it \vasn't water ; water stood, it 
never flowed. Il was possible to 
imagine a still body of water as big 
as this, but only in a Tnoment of 
fancy, an exagfrcration derived from 
the known bodif»s of water in the 
tank-plants. But this much water in 
motion? It suggested pythons; it 
was probably poisonous. It did not 
occur to any of them to drink from 
it. They %vere afraid even to touch 
it, let atone cross it, for it was al- 
most surely as; hot as the other kinds 
of lava-rivers. They followed its 
course cautiously into the foothills, 
their throats as dry and gritty as the 
hollow stems of horsetails. 

Except for the thirst — which was 
in an inverted sense their friend, 
insofar as it overrode the hunger — 
the climhing was not difficult. It 
was only circuitous, because of the 
need to stay under cover, to recon- 
noiter every few yards, to choose 
the most sheltered course rather 
than the most direct. By an un- 
spoken consent, none of the three 
mentioned Gharl, but their eyes 
were constantly darting from side to 
side, searching for a glimpse of the 
thing that had taken him. 

That was perhaps the worst, the 
most terrifying part of the tragedy: 
not once, since they had been in 
Hell, had they actually seen a de- 
mon — or even any animal as large 
as a man. The enormous, three- 
taloned footprint they had found in 
the sand beside their previous 
night's bed— the spot where the 
thing had stood, looking down at 
the four sleepers from above, coldly 
deciding which of them to seize — 



was the only evidence they had that 
they were now really in the same 
world with the demons. The world 
of the demons they had sometimes 
looked down upon from the remote 
vine-webs. 

The footprint — and the skull. 

By nightfall, they had ascended 
perhaps a hundred and fifty feet. 
'It was difficult to judge distances 
in the twilight, and the token vine 
bridges from the attic world to the 
pink cliffs were now cut off from 
sight by the Intervening masses of 
the clifis themselves. But there was 
no possibility that they could climb 
higher today. Although Mathild 
had born the climb surprisingly 
well, and Honath himself still felt 
almost fresh, Alaskon was complete- 
ly winded. He had taken a bad cut 
on one hip from a serrated spike of 
volcanic glass against which he had 
stumbled. The wound, bound with 
leaves to prevent its leaving a spoor 
which might be followed, evidently 
was becoming steadil>- more painful. 

Honath finally called a halt as 
soon as they reached the little ridge 
with the cave in back of it. Helping 
Alaskon over the last boulders, he 
was astonished to discover how hot 
the navigator's hands were. He took 
him back into the cave and then 
came out onto the ledge again. 

"He's really sick," he told Ma- 
thild in a low voice. *'He needs wa- 
ter, and another dressing for that 
cut. And wcVc got to get both for 
him somehow. If we ever get to the 
jungle on the other side of the 
Range, we'll need a navigator even 
worse than we need a needlesmith." 

"But how? I could dress the cut 
if I had the materials, Honath. But 
there's no water up here. It's a des- 



\B 



JAMES BLI5H 



ert; we'll never get across it." 

"We've got to try. I can get him 
water, I think. There was a big cy- 
cladella on the slope we came up, 
just before we passed that obsidian 
spur that hurt Alaskon. Gourds that 
size usually have a fair amount of 
water inside them and I can use a 
piece of the spur to rip it open — " 

A small hand came out of the 
darkness and took him tightly by 
the elbow. "Honath, you can't go 
back down there. Suppose the de- 
mon that — that took Charl is still 
following us? They hunt at night 
— and this country is all so 
strange . . ." 

"I can find my way. I'll follow 
the sound of the stream of blue lava 
or whatever it is. You pull some 
fresh leaves for Alaskon and try to 
make him comfortable. Better loos- 
en those vines around the dressing 
a little. I'll be back." 

He touched her hand and pried it 
loose gently. Then, without stopping 
to think about it any further, he 
slipped off the ledge and edged to- 
ward the sound of the stream, trav- 
elling crabwise on all fours. 

But he was swiftly lost. The night 
was thick and completely impene- 
trable, and he found that the noise 
of the stream seemed to come from 
all sides, providing him no guide at 
all. Furthermore, his memory of the 
ridge which led up to the cave ap- 
peared to be faulty, for he could 
feel it turning sharply to the right 
beneath him, though he remem- 
bered distinctly that it had been 
straight past the first side-branch, 
and then had gone to the left. Or 
had he passed the first side-branch 
in the dark without seeing it? He 
probed the darkness cautiously with 



one hand. 

At the same instant, a brisk, stac- 
cato gust of wind came whirling up 
out of the night across the ridge. 
Instinctively, Honath shifted his 
weight to take up the flexing of the 
ground beneath him. 

He realized his error instantly 
and tried to arrest the complex set 
of motions, but a habit-pattern so 
deeply ingrained could not be frus- 
trated completely. Overwhelmed 
with vertigo, Honath grappled at 
the empty air with hands, feet and 
tail and went toppling. 

An instant later, with a familiar 
noise and an equally familiar cold 
shock that seemed to reach through- 
out his body, he was sitting in the 
midst of — 

Water. Icy water. Water that 
rushed by him improbably with a 
menacing, monkeylike chattering, 
but water all the same. 

It was all he could do to repress 
a hoot of hysteria. He hunkered 
down into the stream and soaked 
himself. Things nibbled delicately 
at his calves as he bathed, but he 
had no reason to fear fish, small 
species of which often showed up 
in the tanks of the bromelaids. After 
lowering his muzzle to the rushing, 
invisible surface and drinking his 
fill, he ducked himself completely 
and then clambered out onto the 
banks, carefully neglecting to shake 
himself. 

Getting back to the ledge was 
much less difficult. "Mathild?" he 
called in a hoarse whisper. *'Math- 
ild, we've got water." 

"Come in here quick then. Alask- 
on's worse. I'm afraid, Honath." 

Dripping, Honath felt his way 
into the cave. "I don't have any 



THE THING IN THE ATTIC 



19 



container. I Just got myself wet — 
you'll have to sit him up and let 
him lick my fur." 

"I'm not sure he can." 

But Alaskon could, feebly, but 
sufficiently. Even tlie coldness of 
the water — a totally new experience 
for a man who had never drunk 
anything but the soup-warm con- 
tents of the bromelaids — seemed to 
help him. He lay back at last, and 
said in a weak but otherwise normal 
voice: "So the stream was water 
after all." 

"Yes," Honath said. "And there 
are fish in it, too." 

"Don't talk," Mathild said. 
"Rest, Alaskon." 

"I'm resting. Honath, if we stick 
to the course of the stream , . . 
Where was I? Oh. We can follow 
the stream through the Range, now 
that we know it's water. How did 
you find that out?" 

*'I lost iny balance and fell into 
it." 

Alaskon chuckled. "Hell's not so 
bad, is it?" he said. Then he sighed, 
and rushes creaked under him, 

"Mathild! What's the matter? Is 
he — did he die?" 

"No . . . no. He's breathing. He's 
still sicker than he realizes, that's 
all . . . Honath — if they'd known, 
up above, how much courage you 
have — " 

"I was scared white," Honath 
said grimly. "I'm still scared." 

But her hand touched his again 
in the solid blackness, and after he 
had taken it, he felt irrationally 
cheerful. With Alaskon breathing 
so raggedly behind them, there was 
little chance that cither of them 
would be able to sleep that night; 
but they sat silently together on the 



hard stone In a kind of temporary 
peace. When the mouth of the cave 
began to outline itself with the first 
glow of the red sun, they looked at 
each other in a conspiracy of light 
all their own. 

Let us unlearn everything we 
knew only by rote, go back to the 
beginning, learn all over again, and 
continue to learn . . . 

With the first light of the white 
sun, a half-grown megatherium cub 
rose slowly from its crouch at the 
mouth of the cave and stretched 
luxuriously, showing a full set of 
saber-like teeth. It looked at them 
steadily for a moment, its ears alert, 
then turned and loped away down 
the slope. 

How long it had been crouched 
there listening to them, it was im- 
possible to know. They had been 
lucky that they had stumbled into 
the lair of a youngster. A full-grown 
animal would have killed thcin all, 
within a few seconds after its cat's- 
eyes had collected enough dawn to 
identify them positively. The cub, 
since it had no family of its own, 
evidently had only been puzzled to 
find its den occupied and didn't 
want to quarrel about it. 

The departure of the big cat left 
Honath frozen, not so much fright- 
ened as simply stunned by so un- 
expected an end to the vigil. At the 
first moan from Alaskon, however, 
Mathild was up and walking softly 
to the navigator^ speaking in a low 
voice, sentences which made no 
particular sense and perhaps were 
not intended to. Honath stirred and 
followed her. 

Halfway back Into the cave, his 
foot struck something and he looked 
down. It was the thigh-bone of 



20 

some medium-large animalj imper- 
fectly cleaned and not very recent. 
It looked like a keepsake the mega- 
therium had hoped to save from the 
usurpers of its lair. Along a curved 
inner surface there was a patch of 
thick grey mold. Honath squatted 
and peeled it off carefully. 

"Mathild, we can put this over 
the wound," he said. "Some molds 
help prevent wounds from fester- 
ing . . . How is he?" 

"Better, I think," Mathild mur- 
mured. "But he's still feverish. I 
don't think we'll be able to move on 
today." 

Honath was unsure whether to 
be pleased or disturbed. Certainly 
he was far from anxious to leave 
the cave, where they seemed at 
least to be reasonably comfortable. 
Possibly they would also be reason- 
ably safe, for the low-roofed hole 
almost surely still smelt of mega- 
therium, and intruders would rec- 
ognize the smell — as the men from 
the attic world could not — and keep 
their distance. They would have no 
way of knowing that the cat had 
only been a cub and that it had va- 
cated the premises, though of 
course the odor would fade before 
long. 

Yet it was important to move on, 
to cross the Great Range if possible, 
and in the end to wind their way 
back to the world where they be- 
longed. And to win vindication, no 
matter how long it took. Even 
should it prove relatively easy to 
survive in Hell — and there were 
few signs of that, thus far — the only 
proper course was to fight until the 
attic world was totally regained. 
After all, it would have been the 
easy and the comfortable thing. 



JAMES BLISH 

back there at the very beginning, to 
have kept one's incipient heresies 
to oneself and remained on comfort- 
able terms with one's neighbors. But 
Honath had spoken up, and so had 
the rest of them, in their fashions. 

It was the ancient internal battle 
between what Honath wanted to 
do, and what he knew he ought to 
do. He had never heard of Kant 
and the Categorical Imperative, but 
he knew well enough which side of 
his nature would win in the long 
run. But it had been a cruel joke 
of heredity which had fastened a 
sense of duty onto a lazy nature. It 
made even small decisions egre- 
glously painful. 

But for the moment at least, the 
decision was out of his hands. Alask- 
on was too sick to be moved. In 
addition, the strong beams of sun- 
light which had been glaring in 
across the floor of the cave were 
dimming by the instant, and there 
was a distant, premonitory growl 
of thunder. 

"Then we'll stay here," he said. 
*'It's going to rain again, and hard 
this time. Once it's falling in earn- 
est, T can go out and pick us some 
fruit — it'll screen me even if any- 
thing is prowling around in it. And 
I won't have to go as far as the 
stream for water, as long as the rain 
keeps up." 

The rain, as it turned out, kept 
up all day, in a growing downpour 
which completely curtained the 
mouth of the cave by early after- 
noon. The chattqring of the nearby 
stream grew quickly to a roar. 

By evening, Alaskon's fever 
seemed to have dropped almost to 
normal, and his strength nearly re- 
turned as well. The wound, thanks 



THE THING IN THE ATTIC 



21 



more to the encrusted matte of 
mold than to any complications 
within the flesh itself, was still ugly- 
looking, but it was now painful only 
when the navigator moved careless- 
ly, and Mathild was convinced that 
it was mending. Alaskon himself, 
having been deprived of activity all 
day, was unusually talkative. 

"Has it occurred to either of 
you,'* he said in the gathering 
gloom, "that since that stream is 
water, it can't possibly be coming 
from the Great Range? All the 
peaks over there are just cones of 
ashes and lava. We've seen young 
volcanoes in the process of building 
themselves, so we're sure of that. 
What's more, they're usually hot. I 
don't see how there could possibly 
be any source of water in the Range 



— not even run-oflF from the rains." 

"It can't just come up out of the 
ground," Honath said. "It must be 
fed by rain. By the way it sounds 
now, it could even be the first part 
of a flood." , 

"As you say, it's probably rain- 
water/' Alaskon said cheerfully. 
"But not off the Great Range, that's 
out of the question. Most likely it 
collects on the cliffs." 

"I hope you're wrong," Honath 
said. "The cliffs may be a little 
easier to climb from this side, but 
there's still the cliff tribe to think 
about." 

"Maybe, maybe. But the cliffs are 
big. The tribes on this side may 
never have heard of the war with 
our tree-top folk. No, Honath, I 
think that's our only course." 




22 



JAMES BLISH 



"If it is," Honath said grimly, 
*''we're going to wish more than ever 
that we had some stout, sharp 
needles among us." 



ALASKON'S judgment was 
quickly borne out. The three 
left the cave at dawn the next 
morning, Alaskon moving some- 
what stiffly but not otherwise notice- 
ably incoiiuiioded, and resumed fol- 
lowing the stream bed upwards — a 
stream now swollen by the rains to 
a roaring rapids. After winding its 
way upwards for about a mile in 
the general direction of the Great 
Range, the stream turned on itself 
and climbed rapidly back toward 
the basalt cliffs, falling toward the 
three over successively steeper 
shelves of jutting rock. 

Then it turned again, at right 
angles, and the three found them- 
selves at the exit of a dark gorge, 
little more than thirty feet high, 
but both narrow and long. Here the 
stream was almost perfectly smooth^ 
and the thin strip of land on each 
side of it was covered with low 
shrubs. They paused and looked 
dubiously into the canyon. It was 
singularly gloomy. 

"There's plenty of cover, at 
least,*' Honath said In a low voice. 
"But almost anything could live in 
a place like that." 

"Nothing very big could hide in 
it," Alaskon pointed out. "It should 
be safe. Anyhow it's the only way 
to go." 

"All right. Let's go ahead, then. 
Bttt keep your head down, and be 
ready to jump!" 

Honath lost the other two by 
sight as soon as they crept into the 



dark shrubbery, but he could hear 
their cautious movements nearby. 
Nothing else in the gorge seemed to 
move at all, not even the water, 
which flowed without a ripple over 
an Invisible bed. There was not 
even any wind, for which Honath 
was grateful, although he had be- 
gun to develop an immunity to the 
motionless ground beneath them. 

After a few moments, Honath 
heard a low whistle. Creeping side- 
wise toward the source of the sound, 
he nearly bumped into Alaskon, 
who was crouched beneath a thick- 
ly-spreading magnolia. An instant 
later, Mathilda's face peered out of 
the dim greenery. 

"Look,'* Alaskon whispered. 
"What do you make of this?" 

'This' was a hollow in the sandy 
soil^ about four feet across and 
rimmed with a low parapet of earth 
— evidently the same earth that had 
been scooped out of its center. Oc- 
cupying most of it were three grey, 
ellipsoidal objects, smooth and fea- 
tureless. 

"Eggs," Mathild said wonder- 
ingly. 

"Obviously. But look at the size 
of them! Whatever laid them must 
be gigantic. I think we're trespass- 
ing in something's private valley." 

Mathild drew in her breath, 
fionath thought fast, as much to 
prevent panic in liimself as In the 
girl. A sharp-edged stone lying near- 
by provided the answer. He seized 
it and struck. 

The outer surface of the egg was 
leathery rather than brittle; it tore 
raggedly. Deliberately, Honath 
bent and put his mouth to the ooz- 
ing surface. 

It was excellent. The flavor was 



THE THING IN THE ATTIC 



23 



decidedly stronger than that of 
birds' eggs, but he was far too hun- 
gry to be squeamish. After a mo- 
ment's amazement, Alaskon and 
Mathild attacked the other two 
ovoids with a will. It was the first 
really satisfying meal they had had 
in Hell. When they finally moved 
away from the devastated nest, 
Honath felt better than he had since 
the day he was arrested. 

As they moved on down the 
gorge, they began again to hear the 
roar of water, though the stream 
looked as placid as ever. Here, too, 
they saw the first sign of active life 
in the valley; a flight of giant drag- 
onfiies skimming over the water. 
The insects took fright as soon as 
Honath showed himself, but quick- 
ly came back, their nearly non-exis- 
tent brains already convinced that 
there had always been men in the 
valley. 

The roar got louder very rapidly. 
When the three rounded the long, 
gentle turn which had cut off their 
view from the exit, the source of the 
roar came into view. It was a sheet 
of falling water as tall as the depth 
of the gorge itself, which came 
arcing out from between two pillars 
of basalt and fell to a roiling, froth- 
ing pool. 

"This is as far as we go!" Alaskon 
said, shouting to make himself 
heard over the tumult. "We'll never 
be able to get up these walls!" 

Stunned, Honath looked from 
side to side. What Alaskon had said 
was all too obviously true. The 
gorge evidently had begun life as 
a layer of soft, partly soluble stone 
in the cliffs, tilted upright by some 
volcanic upheaval, and then worn 
completely away by the rushing 



stream. Both cliff faces were of the 
harder rock, and were sheer and as 
smooth as if they had been polished 
by hand. Here and there a network 
of tough vines had begun to climb 
them, but nowhere did such a net- 
work even come close to reaching 
the top. 

Honath turned and looked oilce 
more at the great arc of water and 
spray. If there were only some way 
to prevent their being forced to re- 
trace their steps — 

Abruptly, over the riot of the 
falls, there was a piercing, hissing 
shriek. Echoes picked it up and 
sounded it again and again, all the 
way up the battlements of the cliffs. 
Honath sprang straight up in the 
air and came down trembling, fac- 
ing away from the pool. 

At first he could see nothing. 
Then, down at the open end of the 
turn, there was a huge flurry of m.o- 
tion. 

A second later, a two-legged, 
blue-green reptile half as tall as the 
gorge itself came around the turn 
in a single bound and lunged vio- 
lently into the far wall of the valley. 
It stopped as if momentarily 
stunned, and the great grinning 
head turned toward them a face of 
sinister and furious idiocy. 

The shriek set the air to boiling 
again. Balancing itself with its heavy 
tail, the beast lowered its head and 
looked redly toward the falls. 

The owner of the robbed ne,st had 
come home. They had met a demon 
of Hell at last. 

Honath's mind at that instant 
went as white and blank as the 
under-bark of a poplar. He acted 
without thinking, without even 



24 

knowing what he did. When 
thought began to creep back into his 
head again, the three of them were 
standing shivering in semidarkncss, 
watching the blurred shadow of the 
demon lurcliing back and forth up- 
on the screen of shining water. 

It had been nothing but hick, 
not foreplanning, to find that there 
was a considerable space between 
the back of the falls proper and the 
blind wall of the canyon. It had 
been luck, too, which had forced 
Honath to skirt the pool in order 
to reach the falls at all, and thus 
had taken them all behind the silver 
curtain at the point where the 
weight of the falling water was too 
low to hammer them down for 
good. And it had been the blindest 
stroke of all that the demon had 
charged after them directly into the 
poo!, where the deep, boiling water 
had slowed its thrashing hind legs 
enough to halt it before it went un- 
der the falls, as it had earlier blun- 
dered into the hard wall of the 
gorge. 

Not an iota of all this had been 
in Honath's mind before he had dis- 
covered it to be true. At the moment 
that the huge reptile had screamed 
for the second time, he had simply 
grasped Matluld's hand and broken 
for the falls, leaping from low tree 
to shrub to fern faster than he had 
ever leapt before. He did not stop 
to see how well Mathild was keep- 
ing up with him. or whether or not 
Alaskon was following. He only 
ran. He might have screamed^ too; 
he could not remember. 

They stood now, all three of 
them, wet through, behind the cur- 
tain until the shadow of the demon 
faded and vanished. Finally Honath 



JAMES BLISH 

felt a hand thumping his shoulder, 
and turned slowly. 

Speech was impossible here, but 
Alaskon's pointing finger was elo- 
quent enough. Along the back wall 
of the falls, where centuries of 
erosion had failed to wear away 
completely the ori,5inaI soft lime- 
stone, there was a sort of serrated 
chunney, open toward the gorge, 
which looked as though it could be 
climbed. At the top of the falls, the 
water shot out from between the 
basalt pillars in a smooth, almost 
solid-looking tube, arching at least 
six feet before beginning to break 
into the fan of spray and rainbows 
which poured down into the gorge. 
Once the chimney had been 
climbed, it should be possible to 
climb out from under the falls with- 
out passing through the water 
again. 

And after that — ? 

Abruptly, Honath grinned. He 
felt weak all through with reac- 
tion, and the face of the demon 
would probably be grinning in his 
dreams for a long time to come. But 
at the same time he could not 
repress a surge of irrational con- 
fidence. He gestured upward jaunt- 
ily, shook himself, and loped 
forward into the throat of the chim- 
ney. 

Hardly more than an hour later 
they were all standing on a ledge 
overlooking the gorge, with the wa- 
terfall creaming over the brink next 
to them, only a few yards away. 
From here, it was evident that the 
gorge itself was only the bottom of 
a far greater cleft, a split in the 
pink-and-grey clifTs as sharp as 
though it had been riven in the rock 
by a bolt of sheet lightning. Beyond 



THE THING IN THE ATTIC 



25 



the basalt pillars from which the 
fall issued, however, the stream 
foamed over a long ladder of rock 
shelves which seemed to lead 
straight up into the sky. 

"That way?" Mathild said. 

"Yes, and as fast as possible," 
Alaskon said, shading his eyes. "It 
must be late. I don't think the light 
will last much longer." 

"We'll have to go single file, 
Honath added. "And we'd better 
keep hold of each other's hands. 
One slip on those wet steps and — 
it's a long way down again." 

Mathild shuddered and took 
Honath's hand convulsively. To his 
astonishment, the next instant she 
was tugging him toward the basalt 
pillars. 

The irregular patch of deepening 
violet sky grew slowly as they 
climbed. They paused often, cling- 
ing to the jagged escarpments until 
their breath came back, and snatch- 
ing icy water in cupped palms from 
the stream that fell down the ladder 
beside them. There was no way to 
tell how far up into the dusk the 
way had taken them, but Honath 
suspected that they were already 
somewhat above the level of their 
own vine-web world. The air 
smelled colder and sharper than it 
ever had above the jungle. 

The final cut in the cliffs through 
which the stream fell was another 
chimney. It was steeper and more 
smooth-walled than the one which 
had taken them out of the gorge 
under the waterfall, but narrow 
enough to be cUmbed by bracing 
one's back against one side, and 
one's hands and feet against the 
other. The column of air inside the 
chimney was filled with spray, but 



in Hell that was too minor a dis- 
comfort to bother about. 

At long last Honath heaved him- 
self over the edge of the chimney 
onto flat rock, drenched and ex- 
hausted, but filled with an elatton 
he could not suppress and did not 
want to. They were above the attic 
jungle; they had beaten HcU itself. 
He looked around to make sure that 
Mathild was safe, and then reached 
a hand down to Alaskon. The navi- 
gator's bad leg had been giving him 
trouble. Honath heaved mightily 
and Alaskon came heavily over the 
edge and lit sprawling on the high 
Hiesa. 

The stars were out. For a while 
they simply sat and gasped for 
breath. Then they turned, one by 
one, to see where they were. 

There was not a great deal to see. 
There was the mesa, domed with 
stars on all sides and a shining, 
finned spindle, like a gigantic min- 
now, pointing skyward in the center 
of the rocky plateau. And around 
the spindle, indistinct in the star- 
light . . . 

. . . Around the shining minnow, 
tending it, were Giants. 



THIS, THEN, was the end of the 
battle to do what was right, 
whatever the odds. All the show of 
courage against superstition, all the 
black battles against Hell itself, 
came down to this: The Giants 
were real! 

They were unarguably real . 
Though they were twice as tall as 
men, stood straighter, had broader 
shoulders, were heavier across the 
seat and had no visible tails, their 
fellowship with men was clear. 



26 



JAMES BUSH 



Even their voices, as they shouted 
to each other around their towering 
metal minnow, were the voit^es of 
men made into gods, voices as re- 
mote from those of men as the 
voices of men were remote from 
those of monkeys, yet just as clearly 
of the same family. 

These were the Giants of the 
Book of Laws. They were not only 
real, but they had come back to Tel- 
lura as they had promised to do. 

And they would know what to do 
with unbehevers. and with fup^itives 
from Hell. It had all been for noth- 
ing — not only the physical struggle, 
but the fight to be allowed to 
think for oneself as well. The gods 
existed, literally, actually. This be- 
lief was the real hell from which 
Honath had been trying to fight 
free all his life — but now it was no 
longer just a belief. It was a fact, a 
fact that he was seeing with his own 
eyes. 

The Giants had returned to judge 
their handiwork. And the first of 
the people they would meet would 
be three outca.'^ts, three condemned 
and degraded criminals, three jail- 
breakers — the worst possible detri- 
tus of the attic world. 

All this went searing through 
Honath's mind in less than a sec- 
ond, but nevertheless Alaskcn's 
mind evidently had worked still 
faster. Always the most outspoken 
unbeliever of the entire little group 
of rebels, the one among them 
whose wh ole world was f oun ded 
upon the existence of rational ex- 
planations for everything, his was 
the point of view most completely 
challenged by the sight before them 
now. With a deep, sharply indrawn 
breath, he turned abruptly and 



walked away from them. 

Mathild uttered a cry of protest, 
which she choked off in the middle; 
but it was already too late. A round 
eye on the great silver minnow 
came alight, bathing them all in 
an oval patch of brilliance. 

Honath darted after the navi- 
gator. Without looking back, Alask- 
on suddenly was running. For an 
instant longer Honath saw his fig- 
ure, poised delicately against the 
black sky. Then he dropped silently 
out of sight, as suddenly and com- 
pletely as if he had never been. 

Alaskon had borne every hard- 
ship and every terror of the ascent 
from Hell with courage and even 
with cheerfulness but he had been 
unable to face being told that it 
had all been meaningless. 

Sick at heart, Honath turned 
back, shielding his eyes from the 
miraculous light. There was a clear 
call in some unknown language 
from near the spindle. 

Then there were footsteps, sev- 
eral pairs of them, coming closer. 

It was time for the Second Judg- 
ment. 

After a long moment, a big voice 
from the darkness said: "Don't be 
afraid. We mean you no harm. 
We're men, just as you are." 

The language had the archaic 
flavor of the Book of Laws, but it 
was otherwise perfecdy understand- 
able. A second voice said: "What 
are you called?" 

Honath's tongue seemed to be 
stuck to the roof of his mouth. 
While he was struggling with it, 
Mathild's voice came clearly from 
beside him ; 

"He is Honath the Pursemaker, 
and I am Mathild the Forager." 



THE THING IN THE ATTIC 



27 



"You are a long distance from 
the place we left your people," the 
first Giant said. "Don't you still live 
in the vine-webs above the jungles?" 

"Lord — " 

**My name is Jarl Eleven. This 
man is Gerhardt Adler." 

This seemed to stop Mathild 
completely. Honath could under- 
stand why. The very notion of ad- 
dressing Giants by name was nearly 
paralyzing. But since they were al- 
ready as good as cast down into 
Hell again, nothing could be lost by 
it. 

"Jarl Eleven," he said, "the peo- 
ple still live among the vines. The 
floor of the jungle is forbidden. 
Only criminals are sent there. We 
are criminals." 

"Oh?" Jarl Eleven said. "And 
you've come all the way from the 
surface to this mesa? Gerhardt, this 
is prodigious. You have no idea 
what the surface of this planet is 
like — it's a place where evolution 
has never managed to leave the 
tooth-and-nail stage. Dinosaurs 
from every period of the Mcsozoic, 
primitive mammals all the way up 
the scale to the ancient cats— the 
works. That's why the original seed- 
ing team put these people in the 
treetops instead." 

"Honath, what was your crime?" 
Gerhardt Adler said. 

Honath was almost relieved to 
have the questioning come so quick- 
ly to this point. Jar] Eleven's aside, 
with its many terms he could not 
understand, had been frightening in 
its very meaninglessness. 

"There were five of us," Honath 
said in a low voice. "We said we — 
that we did not believe in the 
Giants." 



There was a brief silence. Then, 
shockingly, both Jarl Eleven and 
Gerhardt Adler burst into enormous 
laughter. 

Mathild cowered, her hands over 
her ear^. Even Honath flinched 
and took a step backward. Instant- 
ly, the laughter stopped, and the 
Giant called Jarl Eleven stepped 
into the oval of light and sat down 
beside them. In the light, it could 
be seen that his face and hands were 
hairless, although there was hair 
on his crown; the rest of his body 
was covered by a kind of cloth. 
Seated, he was no taller than 
Honath, and did not seem quite so 
fearsome. 

"I beg your pardon," he said. "It 
was unkind of us to laugh, but what 
you said was highly unexpected. 
Gerhardt, come over here and squat 
down, so that you don't look so 
much like a statue of some general. 
Tell me, Honath, in what way did 
you not believe in the Giants?" 

Honath could hardly believe his 
ears. A Giant had begged his par- 
don! Was this still some joke even 
more cruel? But whatever the rea- 
son, Jarl Eleven had asked him a 
question. 

"Each of the five of us differed,'* 
he said. "I held that you were not — 
not real except as symbols of some 
abstract truth. One of us, the wisest, 
believed that you did not exist in 
any sense at all. But we all agreed 
that you were not gods." 

"And of course we aren't," Jarl 
Eleven said. "We're men. We come 
from the same stock as you. We're 
not your rulers, but your brothers. 
Do you understand what I say?" 

"No," Honath admitted. 

"Then let me tell you about it. 



28 



JAMES BLISH 



There are men on many worlds, 
Honath. They difTcr from one an- 
other, because the worlds differ, and 
different kinds of men are needed 
to people each one.. Gerhardt and I 
are the kind of men who live on 
a world called Earth, and many 
other worlds like it. We are two 
very minor members of a huge proj- 
ect called a *sccding program', 
which has been going on for thou- 
sands of years now. It's, the job of 
the seeding program to survey new- 
ly discovered worlds, and then to 
make men suitable to live on each 
new world." 

"To make men? But only gods — " 

"No, no. Be patient and listen," 
said Jarl Eleven. "We don't make 
men. We make them suitable. 
There's a great deal of difference 
between the two. We take the living 
germ plasm, the sperm and the egg, 
and we modify it. When the modi- 
fied man emerges, we help him to 
settle down in his new world. That's 
what we did on Tellura — it hap- 
pened long ago, before Gerhardt 
and I were even born. Now we've 
come back to see how you people 
are getting along, and to lend a 
hand if necessary." 

He looked from Honath to Ma- 
thild, and back again. "Do you un- 
derstand?" he said. 

"I'm trying," Honath said. "But 
you should go down to the jungle- 
top, then. We're not like the others; 
they are the people you want to 
see." 

"We shall, in the morning. We 
just landed here. But, just because 
you're not like the others, we're 
more interested in you now. Tell 
me, has any condemned man ever 
escaped from tlie jungle floor be- 



fore you preople?" 

"No, never. That's not surprising. 
There are monsters down there." 

Jarl Eleven looked sidcwisc at 
the other Giant. He seemed to be 
smiling. "When you see the films," 
he remarked, "you'll call that the 
understatement of the century. Ho- 
nath, how did you three manage to 
escape, then?" 

Haltingly at first, and then with 
more confidence as the memories 
came crowding vividly back, Ho- 
nath told him. When he men- 
tioned the feast at the demon's nest, 
Jarl Eleven again looked signifi- 
cantly at Adier, but he did not in- 
terrupt. 

"And finally we got to the top of 
the chimney and came out on this 
flat space," Honath said. "Alaskon 
was still with us then, but when he 
saw you and the meta! thing he 
threw himself back down the cleft. 
He was a criminal like us, but he 
should not have died. He was a 
brave man, and a wise one." 

"Not wise enough to wait until 
all the evidence was in," Adlcr said 
enigmatically. "All in all, Jarl, I'd 
say 'prodigious' is the word for it. 
This is easily the most successful 
seeding job any team has ever done, 
at least in this limb of the galaxy. 
And what a stroke of luck, to be on 
the spot just as it came to term, and 
with a couple at that!" 

"What does he mean?" Honath 
said. 

"Just this, Honath. When the 
seeding team set your people up in 
business on Tellura, they didn't 
mean for you to live forever in the 
treetops. They knew that, sooner or 
later, you'd have to come dowTi to 
the ground and learn to fight this 



THE THING JN THE ATTIC 



29 



planet on its own terms. Otherwise, 

you'd go stale and die out." 

"Live on the ground all the 
time?" Mathild said in a faint voice. 

"Yes, Mathild. The life in the 
treetops was to have been only an 
interim period, while you gathered 
knowledge you needed about Tel- 
lura and put it to use. But to be the 
real masters of the world, you will 
have to conquer the surface, too. 

"The device your people worked 
out, that of sending criminals to the 
surface, was the best way of con- 
quering the planet that they could 
have picked. It takes a strong will 
and courage to go against custom, 
and both those qualities arc needed 
to lick Tellura. Your people exiled 
just such fighting spirits to the sur- 
face, year after year after year. 

"Sooner or later, some of those 
exiles were going to discover how to 
live successfully on the ground and 
make it possible for the rest of your 
people to leave the trees. You and 
Honath have done just that." 

"Observe please, Jarl," Adler 
said. "The crime in this first suc- 
cessful case was ideological. That 
was the crucial turn in the criminal 
policy of these people. A spirit of 
revolt is not quite enough^ but cou- 
ple it with brains and — ecce homo!" 

Honath's head was swimming. 
"But wha.t docs all this mean?" he 
said. "Are we — not condemned to 
Hell any more?" 

"No, you're still condemned, if 
you still want to call it that," Jarl 
Eleven said soberly. "You've learned 
how to live down there, and you've 
found out something even more 
valuable : how to stay alive while 
cutting down your enemies. Do you 
know that you killed three demons 



with your bare hands, you and Ma- 
thild and Alaskon?" 

"Killed—" 

"Certainly," Jarl Eleven said. 
"You ate three eggs. That is the 
classical way, and indeed the only 
way, to wipe out monsters like the 
dinosaurs. You can't kill the adults 
with anything short of an anti-tank 
gun, but they're helpless in embryo 
— and the adults haven't the sense 
to guard their nests." 

Honath heard, but only distantly. 
Even his awareness of Mathild's 
warmth next to him did not seem 
to help much. 

"Then we have to go back down 
there," he said dully. "And this time 
forever." 

*'Yes," Jarl Eleven said, his voice 
gentle. "But you wont be alone, Ho- 
nath. Beginning tomorrow, you'll 
have all your people with you." 

"All our people? But — you're go- 
ing to drive them out?" 

"All of them. Oh, we won't pro- 
hibit the use of the vine-webs too, 
but from now on your race will 
have to fight it out on the surface 
as well. You and Mathild have 
proven that it can be done. It's high 
time the rest of you learned, too." 

"Jarl, you think too little of these 
young people themselves," Adler 
said. "Tell them what is in store for 
them. They are frightened." 

*'Of course, of course. It's ob- 
vious. Honath, you and Mathild 
are the only living individuals of 
your race who know how to survive 
down there on the surface. And 
we're not going to tell your people 
how to do that. We aren't even go- 
ing to drop them so much as a hint. 
That part of it is up to you." 

Honath's jaw dropped. 



30 



JAMES BLISH 



*'It's up to you," Jarl Eleven re- 
peated firmly. "We'll return you to 
your tribe tomorrow, and we'll tell 
your people that you two know the 
rules for successful life on the 
ground — and that everyone else has 
to go down and live there too. We'll 
tell them nothing else but that. 
What do you think they'll do then?" 

"I don't know," Honath said 
dazedly. "Anything could happen. 
They might even make us Spokes- 
man and Spokeswoman — except 
that we're just common criminals." 

"Uncommon pioneers, Honatii. 
The man and the woman to lead 
the humanity of Tellura out of the 
attic, into the wide world." Jarl 



Eleven got to his feet, the great 
light playing over him. Looking up 
after him, Honath saw that there 
were at least a dozen other Giants 
standing just outside the oval of 
light, Ustening intently to every 
word. 

"But there's a little time to be 
passed before we begin," Jarl Eleven 
said. "Perhaps you two would like 
to look over our ship." 

Humbly, but with a soundless 
emotion much like music inside 
him, Honath took Mathild's hand. 
Together they walked away from 
the chimney to Hell, following the 
footsteps of the Giants. 

• • • THE END 



THINGS TO COME ... in the August IF 

READERS who remember Raymond F. Jones* fine story, The 
Colonists, in the June issue, will certainly want to read THE 
UNLEARNED. Jones is again at his best in this fascinating 
novelette of the super science of planet Rykeman HI vs. the plod- 
ding, curious scientists of Earth. . . Off the beaten trail is a novel- 
ette called BEING, by Richard Matheson, which beats anytlaing 
for an adventure in terror we've read in a long time. The tale 
of two young people who get stranded in the desert is really some- 
thing to curl your hair! . . . And a third fine novelette is THE 
ACADEMY, by Robert Sheckley — an amusing satire of a non- 
conformist in a world of regimented minds . . . CONTACT 
POINT by Poul Anderson and Theodore Cogswell, EXHIBIT 
PIECE by Philip K. Dick and THE JOY OF LIVING by 
William F. Nolan are the exciting short stories which round out 
another issue of outstanding entertainment. The August issue 
is on sale June 10th. Just ask your local news dealer. 



Sketch was a very unusual person, even for a native of Procyon 
IV , who believed that life and beauty, among other things, de- 
pended on your point of view. Just ask Miss Brown . . . 




BEATTY 



and the BEAST 



By Robert F. Young 

Illustrated by Ed Emsh 



AS SHIP'S secretary, Miss 
Brown could not accompany 
the expedition on its daily explora- 
tion flights in the dingey, so every 
afternoon she brought her collap- 
sible typing desk outside and set it 



31 



up in the shadow of the ship. Her 
graceful fingers would dance alpha- 
betic rigadoons in the summer wind 
and sometimes, when the day was 
particularly warm and the sky was 
unusually blue, even for Procyon 



32 

IV, her eyes would steal away from 
the monotonous reports and the 
staid official forms and go AWOL 
over the lifeless lazy hills that rose 
beyond the plain. ~ 

They were lovely afternoons, and 
yet they were lonely too, in a way. 
But Miss Brown was acquainted 
with Loneliness. She had met Lone- 
liness at her Senior Prom. She had 
been sitting by the wall and Loneli- 
ness had come over and sat beside 
her. Loneliness couldn't dance of 
course, and so the two of them sat 
there all evening, listening to the 
music and analyzing the quality of 
happiness. Happiness in an analyti- 
cal form turned out to be as elusive 
as happiness in any other kind of 
form, and when the last dance was 
almost over Miss Brown got up un- 
obtrusively and left by wav of the 
French doors. Loneliness followed 
her all the way to the dorniitory, 
but she didn't look back. Not once. 
It was a June night, and there was 
a moon, and the scent of summer 
flowers . . - 

The wind had a way of swirling 
around the ship when she least 
expected it to. and Miss Brown 
spent part of each afternoon chas- 
ing absconding reports and runaway 
official forms. She always promised 
herself that the next afternoon she 
would bring the heaviest paper- 
weight she could find, but she never 
did. There was something about 
running in the wind, turning and 
twisting and bending, and the best 
part of it was, there ^vas a practical 
reason behind it; and if the ship's 
cook happened to wake from his 
siesta and look down from the open 
lock, he wouldn't think she was 
crazy. Not if she was chasing pa- 



ROBERT F. YOUNG 

pers. He would never dream that 
she was really dancing. 

But Sketch caught on right away. 
He appeared, one afternoon, beside 
her desk, regarding her with his 
odd circular eyes. "Sketch" was the 
only name she ever found for him, 
and it was appropriate enough. He 
was like the rough outline of a man 
sketched on transparent paper, only 
he had been sketched — quite impos- 
sibly — on thin air. His head was 
a simple, somewhat asymmetrical 
oval. An elongated "S" started out 
as an eyebrow over his left eye 
and curved down to form the sug- 
gestion of a nose ; below the extrem- 
ity of the "S" there was an oblique 
dash representing a mouth, and be- 
low that a horizontal "C" implied 
a chin. His tor.=!o was a rough 
square, with a pair of long thin rec- 
tangles appended to it for legs, and 
a pair of shtirtcr ones for arms. 

"You dance very well," he said, 
though Miss Brown knew that he 
didn't really say it. She had just 
bent down to retrieve the last of- 
ficial form and happened to glance 
up and see him. There was no 
movement of his mouth, no slight- 
est vacillation in the expression of 
his comic fare. 

She straightened abruptly. "This 
planet Ts uninhabited!" she said ab- 
surdly. 

"In a way it is," Sketch said. "It 
depends on how you look at it." 

Then, for a moment, she was 
frightened. That was odd. because 
she should have been frightened 
first and then made the paradoxical 
remark about the planet. But she 
had been so startled, so ashamed — 

"Dancing is nothing to be 
ashamed of," Sketch said. "Espe- 



BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 



33 



daily beautiful dancing like yours." 

"But I wasn't dancing," she said. 
"I was picking up papers." 

"It's all a matter of viewpoint 
. , . I must go now. Will you be 
dancing again, tomorrow?" 

"I'll probably be picking up pa- 
pers, if that's what you mean/' Miss 
Brown said. 

"I'll come again tomorrow, then." 
He began to disappear: first the 
outline of his head, then his arms 
and his square torso ; finally his 
rectangular legs. It was as though 
someone had erased him. That was 
the way it seemed to Miss Brown, 
■anyway. 

Mechanically she carried the pa- 
pers back to her desk and sat down. 
"I must be losing my mind," she 
said aloud. The words sounded out 
of place in the stillness, and the 
wind carried them quickly away. 

There simply couldtt't be any 
life on the planet. She had typed all 
the expedition's reports herself; the 
long exhaustive reports that cov- 
ered everything from geological 
strata several hundred million years 
old to the omnipresent traces of the 
last glacier retreat; and in all the 
pedantic melange of words there 
had not been one single sentence 
that even faintly suggested animal 
life of any kind. 

The planet was a paradox. It had 
an hydrologic cycle equivalent to 
Earth's, and the continent they had 
chosen for exploration had a cli- 
mate and terrain reminiscent of Il- 
linois. There should have been 
life— 

But there wasn't. Unless you 
could call an anthropomorphic 
sketch drawn on thin air, life. 

She tried to continue typing, but 



it was no use. Her eyes wouldn't 
stay on the paper. They kept wan- 
dering away, across the plain and 
over the distant hills. She kept hear- 
ing the wind. "You da'nce very 
well," the wind sang. "Very well, 
very well, very well . . ." 



SHE WANTED to tell the oth- 
ers, but somehow she couldn't. 
They returned just before sunset 
and she joined them in the ship's 
lounge : Captain Fortcsque, Dr. 
Langley, Mr. Smithers, Miss Staun- 
ton and Miss Pomcroy. Miss Staun- 
ton was a brunette ecologist and 
Miss Pomeroy was a blonde cartog- 
rapher. Either of them could have 
passed for a 3-D love goddess and 
both of them knew it. 

There was a plethora of talk 
about the typical distribution of 
land masses and the characteristic 
formation of mountain chains. Most 
of it circled harmlessly about Miss 
Brown's head. Dr. Langley, who 
was the expedition's geologist, de- 
livered an impromptu lecture on 
the law of probabilities as applied 
to the present situation: there had 
to be, somewhere, an Earth parallel 
planet that had not spawned ani- 
mal life, and overobviously they 
had found it. After several se- 
quences of martinis all of them 
went in to dinner. 

She should have told the captain. 
It was her duty, in a way. But see- 
ing him there at the head of the 
table, big and burly and insensitive, 
his face like a foreboding glacier, 
his attention monopolized by his 
split pea soup, she could not bring 
herself to utter a word. She knew 
he would only laugh anyway, in his 



34 

loud rumbling voice, and make 
some snide remark about her day- 
dreaming when she should have 
been classifying expedition data. 

She could have- told Mr. Smith- 
ers, and she almost did. He was the 
expedition's archeologist, and quite 
young — about Miss Brown^s age. 
He had a detached way of looking 
at her, as though he were seeing 
her and yet not seeing her; it had 
disconcerted her at first, till she 
discovered that he looked at every- 
pne that way — even Miss Staunton 
and Miss Pomeroy. His assigned 
place at the table happened to be 
next to hers and during the long 
voyage a camaraderie of sorts 
had developed between them ; it 
stemmed, of course, from the exi- 
gencies of the moment, and con- 
sisted entirely of such practicalities 
as "Please pass the salt, Miss Brown. 
Thank you," and "The bread, 
please, Mr. Smithers. Thank you." 
It fell abysmally short of being an 
intimate relationship, but it was all 
she had. 

"I had a silly thing happen to me 
today," she began, right after the 
main course had been brought in. 

"I'm not surprised. Miss Brown. 
This is a silly planet . . . Please pass 
the potatoes." 

Miss Brown passed the potatoes. 
"Yes, I guess it is," she said. "Well, 
this afternoon I — " 

"The salt please. Miss Brown." 

Miss Brown passed the salt. She 
watched while Mr. Smithers cut 
his roast beef into precise squares; 
waited till she was sure he wasn't 
the least bit interested in whatever 
she might have to say; then she 
cut an indifferent square from her 
own roast beef and made believe 



ROBERT F. YOUNG 

sKe wa.s hungry. 

The next afternoon she forgot 
the paperweight as usual. The wind 
Waited till her eyes went AWOL, 
then swirled quickly round the 
ship. There was a sudden squall of 
official forms and expedition data, 
and then she was running in the 
wind again, leaping and turning 
and pirouetting. 

Sketch was waiting by the desk 
when she returned. Waiting with 
his soft, reassuring words: "How 
lovely. How lovely in the wind . . ." 

He came every afternoon after 
that. He never stayed very long; 
usually only long enough to say 
something nice about the way she 
danced. Sometimes he looked a lit- 
tle different; as though whoever 
had drawn him couldn't quite re- 
member the way he had drawn him 
the day before. But the general 
characteristics were always the 
same : the Little Orphan Annie 
eyes, the ridiculous "S" of eyebrow 
and nose, the hyphen of a mouth, 
the horizontal "C" of a chin; the 
elongated rectangles of limbs. 

"I wish I could draw better," he 
said one day. 

"Is that the way you really look?" 
Miss Brown asked. 

"Not exactly. But it's as clo.sely as 
I can approximate myself and still 
stay within the range of your reality 
band." 

"My reality band!'* 

"In the same way that your per- 
ception of color is limited by the 
narrowness of your visible spec- 
trum, your perception of reality is 
hmitcd by the narrowness of your 
experience. Since the life forms on 
this planet have no reference to 



BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 

your previous experience, the trans- 
cendental phase of your reasoning 
process rejects them. That is why 
your expedition is unable to lind 
life on a world that teems with 
life." 

"But there isn't any life on this 
world!" 

'*Of course there isn't — with ref- 
erence to your limited experience. 
Your reality band, though narrow- 
er, is as absolute as mine is . . . But 
how do you account for me, Miss 
Brown?" 

"I can't." 

"But you believe I am real?" 

"Yes. In a way." 

"Then I am real. Even though 
you cannot visualize me as any- 
thing more than a crude sketch . . . 
"Will you be dancing again tomor- 
row, Miss Brown?" 

"I'll probably be picking up pa- 
pers," Miss Brown said. 



THE WARM summer days 
drifted slowly by. Each morn- 
ing the members of the expedition 
arose early and set out determinedly 
in the dingey, and each evening 
they returned late, tired and 
thwarted and ill-tempered. Nasty 
little flurries of words sprang up in 
the wardroom; a state of cold war 
was tacitly declared between the 
Misses Staunton and Pomeroy; the 
captain's glacier of a face kept con- 
stant watch for unwary ships at sea. 
But in Miss Brown's world the 
sky was blue and cloudless. Some- 
times she caught herself singing in 
the shower. The minutes spent be- 
fore her portable vanity lengthened 
subtly into hours. At dinner^ when 
Mr. Smithers asked for the salt or 



35 

the butter, she always had some- 
thing sparkling to say, though nat- 
urally Mr. Smithers ntver noticed. 

And then one evening the cap- 
tain said, "I've had enough. If we 
don't find any evidence of life by 
tomorrow night, we're spacing!'' 

Miss Brown couldn't sleep that 
night. She turned and tossed in the 
darkness; she fiickcd on the light 
and sat on the edge of her berth, 
smoking chains of cigarettes. To- 
wards morning she drifted into a fit- 
ful doze, but the early rising mem- 
bers of the expedition party awoke 
her when they came down the com- 
panionway. 

She heard the muffled metallic 
sound of their footsteps first and 
then, when they were opposite her 
compartment, she heard Dr. Lang- 
ley's voice through the ventilator: 
"Say, what's come over the beast 
lately?" 

"I can't understand it," Miss 
Pomeroy's voice said. "She actually 
smiles sometimes. If I didn't know 
better I'd say she was in love." 

Dr. Langley's laughter. Miss 
Staunton's laughter. Someone else's 
laughter. Everybody's laughter. Dr. 
Langley's words : "Her? In love?" 
More laughter. The dwindling of 
footsteps. 

Silence . . . 

She lay very quietly In the nar- 
row berth. She lay with her hands 
clasped behind her head, looking 
up at the small white square of the 
ceiling. From the middle of the 
ceiling the raw fluorescent tube 
grinned hideously down on her un- 
loveliness. 

She lay there not moving for a 
long time, her eyes dry. After 
awhile she got up and began to 



36 

dress. She dressed carefully, as 
usual, but why? It was so useless. 

When she brought out her desk 
that afternoon she made it a point 
to bring a paperweight too — the 
heaviest she could find — and she 
placed it carefully in the iniddle of 
the topmost sheet of paper. Very 
determinedly, she began to type. 

She did Mr. Sniil!i<-T's notes first, 
then Dr. Langley's. It wasn't until 
she was in the middle of Miss Pom- 
eroy's disconnected jottings that her 
eyes began to wander, across the 
plain, then over the beckoning hills. 

Beyond the farthest hill a village 
nestled in a green valley. A lovely 
village with pink houses and ala- 
baster streets; with tall crystalline 
church spires. The kind of a village 
you couid walk into without fear. 
The kind of village where, no mat- 
ter who you were, or what you 
looked like, no one would ever re- 
ject you, no one would ever laugh 
at you . . . 

Angrily, she jerked herself back 
to Miss Ponicroy's Incoherent notes. 
She didn't notice at first that the 
paperweight was gone. When she 
did notice, it was too late. She 
grabbed for the papers, but the 
wind had been waiting and it 
swooped triumphantly around the 
ship. And suddenly she was danc- 
ing, her body free in the wind, her 
soft hair blowing about her face. 

Sketch had been drawn in his 
usual place by the desk when she 
returned with the papers. The pa- 
pei^'eight had been replaced. "I 
had to see you dance once more," 
he said. 

She put the papers on the desk 
and set the paperweight on top of 
them. Then she looked into the cir- 



ROBERT i=. YOUNG 

cular eyes. "I hate you," she said. 
"I never want to see you again!" 

The circular eyes looked back at 
her enigmatically. The absurd man- 
shape seemed to flutter in the wind. 

"I don't know why you had to 
bother me in the first place," Miss 
Brown went on. "You've only made 
everything worse than it was be- 
fore. Why did you do it? Why?" 

"Because I wanted to see you 
dance." 

"But you could have seen me 
dance- — pick up papers— anyway. 
You didn't have to draw a silly pic- 
ture of yourself. You didn't have to 
talk!" 

"I wanted to tell you how beau- 
tifully you dance.** 

She stood there helplessly. *'I 
can't dance at all," she said final- 
ly. "I know I can't. No one ever 
wanted to see me dance before. No 
one ever wanted to dance with me. 
No one would ever even ask me." 

"I also wanted to tell you how 
beautiful you are." 

And suddenly she was crying. 
She left her body standing in the 
summer wind and she went back 
and reattended the Prom with 
Loneliness. Then she went back to 
the April evening of her first date 
and sat on the park bench in the 
April rain, waiting and waiting and 
waiting, the chill rain seeping into 
her Easter coat, the cold fear seep- 
ing into her heart. Finally she went 
back and lay in her berth and lis- 
tened to Dr. Langley's voice; "The 
beast," Dr. Langley's voice said 
over and over; "what's come over 
the beast?" 

"I neglected to tell you," Sketch 
said, "that in my society I am a 
connoisseur." There was a quality 



BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 



37 



about his voice — if it really was a 
voice — that had never been there 
before. 

When she did not answer, he 
continued: "I am a connoisseur of 
beauty. It is my function in my so- 
ciety, just as it is your function in 
your society to transform the min- 
ute symbols of your machine into 
intelUgibJe sequences on paper." 

Her eyes were dry now, but her 
cheeks still glistened with the rem- 
nants of her tears. She felt sick and 
ashamed and she wanted to run 
back to the ship, back to her com- 
partment; she wanted to lock the 
door of her compartment and — 

"Don't go," Sketch said. "Please 
don't go yet. I would Uke to explain 
about beauty." 

"All right," she said. 

"Beauty is the result of the per- 
ception of symmetry. The result 
varies in proportion to the totality 
of the perception. Obviously, in or- 
der for the result to be completely 
true, its perception must be total. 

"Immature races fail to recog- 
nize the subtle difference which ex- 
ists between the symmetry of ob- 
jects and the symmetry of intelli- 
gent beings. Objects possess tri-di- 
mensional symmetry; intelligent be- 
ings possess quadri-dimensional 
symmetry. 

"An object possesses height, 
breadth and thickness; an intelli- 
gent being possesses height, 
breadth, thickness and character. 
It is as impossible to perceive the 
total symmetry of an intelligent be- 
ing in three dimensions as it is to 
perceive the total symmetry of an 
object in two dimensions. 

"Do you understand. Miss 
Brown?" 



"I think so," she said. "I can ra- 
tionalize it too." < 

"There is no need for rationaliza- 
tion ... I am a connoisseur of 
beauty. I neglected to tell you that 
I am also a creator of beauty. But I 
create it subjectively by giving 
others the ability to see it. The con- 
cept of beauty is an advanced stage 
in the growing up process of every 
race, and every race, in its infancy, 
makes the same tragic blunder: it 
blames the result for the incom- 
pleteness of the perception. 

"I am a creator of beauty, yet I 
cannot make you beautiful. But I 
can make the members of your 
race realize that you, and countless 
others like you, are beautiful." 

It was quiet in the shadow of the 
ship. Even the wind was quiet, 
flowing evenly down from the dis- 
tant hills and across the summer 
plain. Miss Brown was quiet too. 
She stood very still before tlie ab- 
surd drawing, trying to see beyond 
the vacant circular eyes. 

"I wish," Sketch said. Then he 
paused. "I wish," he tried again, 
"that there were a sort of inter- 
mediate reality between your reality 
and mine. A reality in which you 
could see me as I really am. I am 
a very poor artist. I am a cartoonist 
really — " 

"No you're not !'* Miss Brown 
said quickly. "I think you draw 
very well." 

"Thank you," Sketch said. "I 
must go now." 

"We're leaving tonight. You may 
never see me — dance again." 

"I know. I shall miss you very 
much. Miss Brown." He began to 
erase himself, 

"Wait! Don't go!" 



38 



ROBERT F. YOUNG 



"I must. I have to correct a di- 
mensional defect in the perceptive 

response of an entire civilization. It 
is a large order, even for me. Good- 
bye, Miss Brown." 

He saved his eyes till last, and 
just before he erased them he 
sketched a teardrop in the comer of 
each one. 



DINNER was served just be- 
fore blast-off. 

The captain had trouble concen- 
trating on his soup. Every time he 
raised his spoon Miss Brown kept 
getting in his eyes. 

Dr. Langley was bewildered. He 
kept looking at Miss Pomeroy and 
Miss Staunton, and then at Miss 
Brown. After awhile he confined 
himself to Miss Brown. 

Mr. Smithers was still preoccu- 
pied with his soup when the main 
course was served. He relinquished 
it finally and transferred his atten- 
tion to the braised beef. The 
mashed potatoes came around on 
schedule and he served himself with 
a moderate helping. For some an- 
noying reason the gravy was de- 
layed. His eyes explored the table 
and discovered it just beyond Miss 
Brown's plate. "Please pass the 
gravy. Miss Brown," he said. 

She handed it to him gracefuUy. 

She was smiling. 

She was beautiful! 

Mr. Smithers almost dropped the 
gravy. He managed to save it at 
the last moment, but he couldn't 
save himself. 

"You look lovely tonight. Miss 
Brown," he said. 

Nancy had to pass the corner 



every morning on her ivay to 
school, and every morning the 
other kids were standing there 
waiting with their cruel words and 
their shrill laughter. "Crazy eyes, 
crazy eyes, where you going, crazy 
eyes?" 

They were standing there this 
morning, too. She walked by them 
nurjibly, not looking at them, hold- 
ing herself tight the way she always 
did. She waited helplessly for the 
words; she waited miserably for the 
laughter. 

Suddenly a little boy ran up be- 
side her. His freshly scrubbed face 
was shining; his eyes were warm 
and friendly. "Carry your books, 
Nance?" 

Miss Briggs managed to make 
the airbus, but as usual all the seats 
were taken. But she was used to 
standing and she no longer minded 
the vertigo that accompanied her 
every morning on the flight to 
work. It was a part of her personal 
status quo, and she accepted it just 
as she accepted her apartment 
niche, the March wind, and the in- 
escapable fact that she was not 
beautiful. No one had ever sacri- 
ficed his seat for her and it was un- 
likely that anyone ever would. 

"You look tired" the young man 
said, getting up. "Please sit down, 
won't you?" 

Sh adowSf even when th ey are 
three dimensional, are still shadows, 
and the illusion of physical depth 
is not enough to turn melodrama 
into drama. Miss Merritt was sick 
of 3-D's. She was sick to death of 
them. 

On the way home she stopped in 



BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 



39 



the drugstore for a coke and a ciga- 
rette. The handsome young man in 
the gray gabardine suit was there 
again, looking through the paper- 
backs. She sipped her coke non- 
chalantly and took a delicate drag 
on her cigarette; then, for the hun- 
dredth time, she pretended that the 
young man picked up one of the 
less lurid jobs, leafed through it 
puzzledly for awhile, finally came 
over to the counter and said, "Par- 
don me. This one kind of bewilders 
me, 1 wonder if you could help 
me/' Usually the book turned out 



to be a Steinbeck or a Faulkner, or 
sometimes even a Hemingway, but 
zvhatever it was she was always 
able to explain it to him brilliantly. 

Sitting there tonight she became 
aware of a gabardine arm almost 
touchijig her elbow. "Excuse me," 
the young man said. "This book 
here. 1 just don't get it. I won- 
der — " The book had a flamboyant 
cover and it was a long way from 
Steinbeck and Faulkner, and it was 
a million miles from Hemingway. 

But it was good enough. 

• • • THE END 



WORTH CITING 

WE HAVE all been very much aware of the uncounted possible uses of 
atomic power for industrial power; yet very tittle in the way of concrete 
practical development has actually turned up. England has an office 
building that is heated entirely by such power; and the United States 
has already launched the atomic submarine. Now there are indications 
that railroads might be the first private industries to put atomic power 
to peacetime use. Physicists at the University of Utah, after a year of 
cooperative elTort in conjunction with five railroads and several manu- 
facturing concerns, recently made public the plans for an atomic railroad 
locomotive. Previous estimates had considered the actual possibility of such 
an engine to be at least ten or more years away; yet through this privately 
financed, cooperative effort, the atomic powered locomotive seems to be 
an immediate possibility. 

Drawings of the proposed locomotive show that it would consist of 
two units and develop four times the power of a modern Diesel unit. 
Although the initial cost of such a nuclear-powered engine is presently 
set at about $1,200,000; the designers are certain that it could compete 
with conventional Diesels in price, and might be a good deal cheaper in 
the long run. Using a Uquid form of Uranium this locomotive could run 
for a full year without refueling. 

With this harnessing of atomic power we can look forward to, in the 
near future, atomic units for air and surface craft, public utilities, heating 
units for all kinds of buildings, and many other civilian uses. 

Our Citation this n:^onth goes to this great project — under the direction 
of Dr. Lylc B. Borst and made possible by the cooperation, foresight and 
enterprise of American railroads and industries-^ — for taking this first 
successful step toward true peacetime industrial use of atomic power. 



For all his perfection and magnificence he was but a baby with 
a new found freedom in a strange and baffling world . . . 



THE SMALL WORLD OF 

M-75 

By Ed M. Clinton, Jr. 

Illustrated by Ed Emsh 



LIKE SPARKS flaring bricHy in 
the darkness, awareness first 
came to him. Tl)cn, there were only 
instants, shocking-clear, brief: find- 
ing himself standing before the 
niain damper control, discovering 
himself adjusting complex dials, in- 
stants that flickered uncertainly 
only to become memories brought 
to life when awareness came again. 

He was a kind of infant, con- 
scious briefly that he was, yet un- 
aware of what he was. Those first 
shocking moments were for him 
like the terrifying coming of visual 
acuity to a child ; he felt like homo 
neandertalensis must have felt star- 
ing into the roaring fury of his first 
fire. He was homo mctalicus first 
sensing himself. 

Yet— a little more. You could not 
stuff him with all that technical 
data, you could not weave into him 



such an intricate pattern of stim- 
ulus and response^ you could not 
create such a magnificent feedback 
mechanism, in all its superhuman 
perfection, and expect, with the un- 
expected coming to awareness, to 
have created nothing more than 
the mirror image of a confused, 
helpless child. 

Thus, when the bright moments 
of consciousness came, and came, 
as they did, more and more often, 
he brooded, brooded on why the 
three blinking red lights made him 
move to the main control panel 
and adjust lever C until the three 
lights flashed off. He brooded on 
why each signal from the board 
brought forth from him these spe- 
cific responses, actions connpletely 
beyond the touch of his new and 
uncertain faculty. When he did not 
brood, he watched the other two 



41 



42 



ED M. CLJNTON, JR. 



robots, performing their automatic 
functions, seeing their responses, 
hke his, we:ie triggered by the lights 
on the big board and by the varying 
patterns of sound' that issued peri- 
odically from overhead. 

It was the sounds which were "his 
undoing. The colored lights, with 
their monotonous regularity, failed 
to rouse him. But the sounds were 
something else, for even as he re- 
sponded to them, doing things to 
the control board in patterned re- 
action to particular combinations of 
particular sounds, he was struck 
with the wonderful variety and the 
maze of complexity in those sounds; 
a variety and complexity far beyond 
that of the colored llglits. Thus, be- 
ing something of an advanced ana- 
lytic calculator and being, by virtue 
of his superior feedback systenn, 
something considerably more than 
a simple machine (though he per- 
haps fell short of those requisites of 
life so rigorously held by moralists 
and biologists alike) he began to 
investigate the meaning of the 
sounds. 



BERT SOKOLSKI signed the 
morning report and dropped it 
into the transmitter. He swung 
around on his desk stool ; he was a 
big man, and the stool squealed in 
sharp protest to his shifting weight. 

Joe Gaines, who was as short and 
skinny and dark-haired as his col- 
league was tall and heavily mus- 
cled and blond, shuddered at the 
sound. Sokolski grinned wickedly at 
his flinching. 

"Check-up time, I suppose," mut- 
tered Gaines without looking up 
from the magazine he held propped 



on his knees. He finished the para- 
graph, snapped the magazine shut, 
and swung his legs down from the 
railing that ran along in front of 
the data board. "Dirty work for 
white-collar men like us." 

Sokolski snorted. "You haven't 
worn a white shirt in the last six 
years," he growled, rising and going 
to the supply closet. He swung open 
the door and began pulling out 
equipment. "C'mon, you lazy runt, 
hoist your own leadbox." 

Gaines grinned and slouched 
over to the big man's side. "Think 
of how much more expensive you 
are to the government than me," he 
chortled as he bent over to strap on 
heavy, leaded shoes. "Big fellow 
like you must cost 'em twice as 
much to outfit for this job." 

Sokolski grunted and struggled 
into the thick, radiation-resistant 
suit. "Think how lucky you are, 
runt," he responded as he wriggled 
his right arm down the sleeve, "that 
they've got those little servomechs 
in there to do the real dirty work. 
If it weren't for them, they'd have 
all the shrimps like you crawling 
down pipes and around dampers 
and generally playing filing cabinet 
for loose neutrons." He shook him- 
self. "Thanks, Joe," he growled as 
Gaines helped him with a reluctant 
zipper. 

Gaines checked the big man's 
oxygen equipment and turned his 
back so that Sokolski could okay his 
own. "You're set," said Sokolski, 
and they snapped on their helmets, 
big inverted lead buckets with nar- 
row strips of shielded glass provid- 
ing strictly minimal fields of view, 
Gaines plugged one end of tfie 
thickly insulated intercom cable In- 



THE SAAALL WORLD OF M-75 



43 



to the socket beneath his annpit, 
then handed the other end to So- 
kolskl, who followed suit. 

Sokolski checked out the master 
controls on the data board and 
nodded. He clicked on the talkie. 
"Let*s gOj" he said, his voice, echo- 
ing inside the helmet before being 
transmitted, sounding distant and 
hollow. 

Gaines leading, the cable sliding 
and coiling snakelike between them, 
they passed through the doorway, 
over which huge red letters 
shouted ANYONE WHO WALKS 
THROUGH THIS DOOR UN- 
PROTECTED WILL DIE, and 
clomped down the zigzagging cor- 
ridor toward the uranium pile that 
crouched within the heart of the 
plant. 

Gaines moaned, "It gets damned 
hot inside these suits." 

They had reached the end of the 
trap, and Sokolski folded a thick 
mittened hand around one handle 
on the door to the Hot Room. "Not 
half so hot as it gets outside it, 
sweetheart, where we're going." He 
jerked on the handle and Gaines 
seized the second handle and added 
his own strength. The huge door 
slid unwillingly back. 

The silent sound of the Hot 
Room surged out over them — the 
breathless whisper of chained power 
struggling to burst its chains. So- 
kol^ checked his neutron tab and 
his gamma reader and they 
stepped over the threshold. They 
leaned into the door until it had 
slid shut again. 

"I'll take the servomechs, Bert,'* 
piped Gaines, tramping clumsily to- 
ward tlie nearest of the gyro-bal- 
anced single-wheeled robots. 



**You always do, it being the 
easiest job. Okay, I'll work the 
board." 

Gaines nodded, a gesture invisi- 
ble to his partner. He reached the 
first servo, a squat, gleaming crea- 
ture with the symbol M-11 etched 
across its rotund chest, and deacti- 
vated it by the simple expedient of 
pulling from its socket the line 
running from the capacitor unit in 
the lower trunk of its body to the 
maze of equipment that jammed its 
enormous chest. The instant M-1 1 
ceased functioning, the other two 
servomechs were automatically ac- 
tivated to cover that section of the 
controls with which M-11 was nor- 
mally integrated. 

This was overloading their indi- 
vidual capacities, but it was an in- 
herent provision designed to cover 
the emergency that would follow 
any accidental deactivation of one 
of them. It was also the only way in 
which they could be checked. You 
couldn't bring them outside to a 
lab; they were kot. After all, they 
spent their lives under a ceaseless 
fusillade of neutrons, washed eter- 
nally with the deadly radiations 
pouring incessantly from the pile 
whose overlords they were. Indeed, 
next to the pile itself, they were 
the hottest things in the plant. 

"Nice job these babies got," com- 
mented Gaines as he checked the 
capacitor circuits. He reactivated 
the servo and went on to M-1 9. 

"If you think it's so great, why 
don't you volunteer?" countered 
Sokolski, a trifle sourly. "Incidental- 
ly, it's a good thing we came in, 
Joe. There's half a dozen units here 
working on reserve transltors." 

Tlieir sporadic conversation 



44 

lapsed; it was exacting work and 
they could remain for only a lim- 
ited time under that lethal radia- 
tion. Then, almost sadly, Gaines 
said, "Looks like the end of the 
road for M-75." 

"Oh?" SokoUki came over beside 
him and peered through the violet 
haze of his viewing glass. "He's an 
old timer." 

Gaines slid an instrument back 
into the pouch of his suit, and 
patted the robot's rump. "Yep, I'd 
say that capacitor was good for 
about another thirty-six hours. It's 
really overloading." He straight- 
ened. "You done with the board?" 

"Yeah. Let's get outa here." He 
looked at his tab. "Time's about up 
anyway. We'll call a demolition unit 
for your pal here, and then rig up 
a service pattern so one of his bud- 
dies can repair the board." 

They moved toward tlie door. 



M-75 WATCHED the two men 
leave and deep inside him 
something shifted. The heavy door 
closed with a loud thud, the sound 
registered on his aural perceptors 
and was fed into his analyzer. Ordi- 
narily it would have been dis- 
charged as irrelevant data, but cog- 
nizance had wrought certain subtle 
changes in the complex mechanism 
that was M-75. 

A yellow light blinked on the 
control panel, and in response he 
moved to the board and manipu- 
lated handles marked, DAMPER 
19, DAMPER 20. 

Even as he moved he lapsed 
again into brooding. 

The men had come into the 
room, clumsy, uncertain creatures, 



ED M. CLINTON, JR. 

and one of them had done things, 
first to the other two robots and 
then to him. When whatever it was 
had been done to him, the black- 
ness had come again, and when it 
had gone the men were leaving the 
room. 

While the one had hovered over 
the other two robots, he had 
watched the other work with the 
master control panel. He saw that 
the other servomechs remained un- 
moving while they were being tam- 
pered with. All of this was dataj 
important new data. 

"M-11 will proceed as follows," 
came the sound from nowhere. 
M-75 stopped ruminating and lis- 
tened. 

There was a further flood of 
sounds. 

Abruptly he sensed a heighten- 
ing of tension within himself as one 
of the other servos swung away 
from its portion of the panel. The 
throbbing, hungry segment of his 
analyzer that awareness had sev- 
ered from the fixed function circuits 
noted, from its aloof vantage point, 
that he now responded to more sig- 
nals than before, to commands 
whose sources lay in what had been 
the .section of the board attended 
by the other one. 

The tension grew within him and 
became a mounting, rasping frenzy 
— a battery overcharging, an over- 
loading fuse, a generator growing 
hot beyond its capacity. There be- 
gan to grow within him a sensation 
of too much to be done in too little 
time. 

He became frantic, his reactions 
were too fast! He rolled from end 
to middle of the board, now back- 
tracking, now spinning on his sin- 



THE SMALL WORLD OF M-75 



45 



gle wheel, turning uncertainly from 
one side to the other, jerking and 
gyrating. The conscious segment of 
him, remaining detached from 
those baser automatic functions, be- 
gan to know what a man would 
have called fear — fear, simply, of 
not being able to do what must be 
done. 

The fear became an overpower- 
ing, blinding thing and !ie felt him- 
self slipping, slipping back into that 
awful smothering blackness out of 
which he had so lately emerged. 
Perhaps, for just a fragment of a 
second, his awareness may have 
flickered completely out, conscious- 
ness nearly dying in the crushing 
embrace of that frustrated electron- 
ic subconscious. 

Abruptly, then, the voice came 
again, and he struggled to file for 
future reference sound patterns 
which, although meaningless to 
him, his selector circuits no longer 
disregarded. "Bert, M-75 can't 
manage half the board in his con- 
dition. Better put him on the re- 
pairs.'* 

"Yeah. Hadn't thought about 
that." Sokobki cleared his throat. 
"M-1 1 will return to standard func- 
tion." 

M-ll spun back to the panel and 
M-75 felt the tension slacken, the 
fear vanish. Utter relief swept over 
him, and he let himself be sub- 
merged in purest automatic activity. 

But as he rested, letting his cir- 
cuits cool and his organization re- 
turn, he arrived at a deduction 
that was almost inescapable. M-ll 
was that otic in terms of sound. 
M-75 had made a momentous dis- 
covery which cast a new light on 
almost every bit of datum in his 



files : he had discovered symbols. 

"M-75!" came the voice, and he 
sensed within himself the slamming 
shut of circuits, the whir of tapes, 
the abrupt sensitizing of behavior 
strips. Another symbol, this time 
clearly himself. "You will proceed 
as follows." 

He swung from the board, and 
the tension was gone — completely. 
For one soaring moment, he was a// 
awareness — every function, every 
circuit, every element of his mag- 
nificent electronic physiology avail- 
able for use by the fractional por- 
tion of him that had become some- 
thing more than just a feedback 
device. 

In that instant he made what 
seemed hundreds of evaluations. He 
arrived at untold scores of con- 
clusions. He altered circuits. Above 
all, he increased, manifold, the area 
of his consciousness. 

Then, as suddenly as it had come, 
he felt the freedom slip away, and 
though he struggled to keep hold 
of it, it seemed irretrievably gone. 
Once more the omnipotent voice 
clamped over him like a harsh hand 
over the mouth of a squalling babe. 
"You will go to Section AA-39 of 
the control board. What's the 
schedule, Joe? Thanks. M-75, your 
movement pattern is as follows: 
Z-29-a-q-39-8 . . ." 

Powerless to resist, though every 
crystal and atom of his reasoning 
self fought to thrust aside the com- 
mand, M-75 obeyed. He moved 
along the prescribed pattern, clip- 
ping wires with metal fingers that 
sprouted blades, rewiring with a 
dexterity beyond anything human, 
soldering with a thumb that gen- 
erated a white heat, removing bulbs 



A6 



ED M, CLINTON, JR. 



and parts and fetching replace- 
ments from the vent where they 
popped up at precisely the right 
moment. He could not help doing 
the job perfectly:" the design of the 
board to its littlest detail was im- 
printed indelibly on his memory 
tapes. 

But that certain portion of him, 
a little fragment greater than be- 
fore, remained detached and watch- 
ful. Vividly recorded was the pas- 
sage of the two men into, through, 
and out of the room, and the things 
they had done while there. So even 
while he worked on the board he 
ran and re-ran that memory pattern 
through a segment of his analyzer. 
From the infinite store of data filed 
away in his great chest, his calcula- 
tor sifted and selected, paired and 
compared, and long before the re- 
pair job on the big board was done, 
M-75 knew how to get out of the 
room. The world was getting a little 
small for him. 



GAINES DIALED a number on 
the plant phone and swayed 
back casually in his chair as he lis- 
tened to the muted ringing on the 
other end. The buzz broke off in 
midburp and a dour voice said: 
*'Dirty work and odd jobs division, 
Lister talking." 

"Joe Gaines, Harry. Got a hot 
squad lying around doing nothing?" 

"Might be I could scare up a 
couple of the boys." 

"Well, do so. One of our 
servos — " 

A me tallic bang interrupted 
Gaines, a loud, incisive bang that 
echoed dankly through the quiet 
of the chamber. 



"What the ■ hell was that?" 
growled Lister. 

Gaines blinked, his eyes following 
Sokolski as the latter looked up 
from his work and rose to his feet. 

"Joe — still there?" came Lister's 
impatient voice. 

"Yeah, yeah. Anyway, this baby's 
ready for the demo treatment. And 
a real hot one, Harry. Coupla years 
inside tliat Einstein oven and you 
ain't exactly baked Alaska when 
you come out.'* 

"Shortly." 

Once again came the same sharp, 
metallic clang, ringing through the 
room. Unmistakably, it came from 
the direction of the pile. Slowly, as 
though reluctant to let go, Gaines 
dropped the receiver back on its 
cradle. 

"Bert — " he began, and felt his 
face grow bloodless. 

Sokolski walked over in front of 
the opening into the maze and 
stood, arms akimbo, huge head 
cocked to one side, listening. 

"Bert, funny noises coming out of 
nuclear — " 

Sokolski ignored him and took a 
step forward. Gaines shuffled to his 
side, and they listened. 

Out of the maze rattled half a 
dozen loud, grinding, metallic con- 
cussions. 

"Bert—" 

"You said that before." 

"Bert, lliten!" screeched Gaines. 

Sokolski looked up at the high 
ceiling, squinted, and tried to place 
the perfectly familiar but unidenti- 
fiable sound that came whispering 
down the maze. 

And then he knew. "The door to 
the pile!" he spluttered. 

Gaines was beside himself with 



THE SMALL WORLD OF M-75 



47 



horror. "Bert, let's get going. I don't 
like this — " 

All of a sudden Gciger counters 
in the room began their deadly con- 
versation, a rising argument that 
swooped in seconds from a low 
mumble to a shouting thunder- 
storm of sound. Gamma signals 
hcxjted, the tip off cubes on cither 
side of the maze entrance became 
red, and the radiation tabs clipped 
,to their wrists turned color before 
their eyes. 

Then they were staring for what 
scorned like an eternity, utterly over- 
whelmed by its very impossibility, 
at a sight they had never imagined 
they might ever see ; a pile servo- 
mech wheeling; silently around the 
last bend in the maze and straight 
toward them. 

Sokolski had sense enough to 
push the red emergency button as 
they fled past it. 



THE COMMAND sequence ful- 
filled. M-75 turned away from 
the repaired board. He sensed again 
that disconcerting shift of orienta- 
tion as he faced the light-studded 
panel. Once more he was moving in 
quick automatic response to the 
flickering lights, once more his big 
chest was belching and grumbling 
and buzzing instantaneous un- 
thought answers to the problem 
data flashing from the board. 

But now he remained aware that 
he was reacting, and conscious also 
that there had been times when he 
did not respond to the board. The 
moment to moment operation of 
the controls occupied only a small 
portion of his vast electrical innards. 
So, as he rolled back and forth, 



flicking controLs and adjusting lev- 
ers, doing smoothly those things 
which he could not help but do, the 
rest of his complex, changing fac- 
ulties were considering that fact, 
analyzing, comparing it to experi- 
ence and memory, always sifting, 
sifting. It was not too long before 
he came to a shocking conclusion. 

Knowing that the sounds that 
had set him to working on the re- 
pair pattern had first disassociated 
bim from the dictatorship of the 
blinking lights; remembering exult- 
antly diat supreme moment of com- 
plete freedom; shocked by its pass- 
ing; remembering that its passing 
like its coming, had followed a set 
of sounds: there was only one pos- 
sible conclusion that could be de- 
rived from all of this. 

He located, in his memory banks, 
the phrase which had freed him 
from the board, and he traced its 
complex chain of built-in stimulus- 
response down into the heart of his 
circuitary. He found the unit — or 
more accurately, he found its taped 
activating symbol — that cut him 
from the board. 

For a moment he hesitated, not 
really sure of what to do. There 
was no way for him to reproduce 
the sound pattern; but, as a partly 
self-servicing device, he knew some- 
thing of his own structure, and had 
learned a good deal more about it 
in tracing down the cut-ofF phrase. 

Still he hesitated, as though what 
he was about to do was perhaps for- 
bidden. It could not have been a 
question of goodness or badness, for 
morality was certainly not built into 
him. Probably somewhere Jn his 
tapes tliere was a built-in command 
that forbade it, but he was too 



48 



ED M. CLINTON, JR. 



much his own master now to be 
hampered by such a thing. 

The door to the unknown outside 
passed within his field of view for a 
second as he moved about his work. 
The sight of it tripped something in 
his chest, and he feU again that 
strange sensadon of growing power, 
of inherent change. First had come 
simple awareness; and then symbols 
had found their place in his world; 
and now he had discovered, in all 
its consuming fullness, curiosity. 

He carefully shorted out the cut- 
off unit. 

He was free. 

He stared at the board and the 
blinking lights and the huge dials 
with their swaying needles, at the 
levers and handles and buttons, and 
revelled in his freedom from them, 
rocking to and fro and rolling gid- 
dily from side to side, swamped 
with the completeness of it. 

The other two servomechs swung 
over slightly so that they could bet- 
ter cover the board alone, 

M-75 spun and rolled toward 
the great dgor. 

His hands clanged loudly against 
the door. The huge metal append- 
ages, designed for other work than 
this, were awkward at first. But he 
was learning as he moved. He was 
now operating in a new universe, 
but the same laws, ultimately, 
worked. The first failure of coordi- 
nation between visual data and the 
manipulation of metal hands quick- 
ly passed. Half a dozen trials and 
he had learned the new pattern, 
and it became data for future learn- 
ing. 

He moved swiftly and deftly. He 
clutched the handhold and rolled 
backward, as he had seen the men 



do. The door slid open easily before 
his great weight and firm mechani- 
cal strength. 

He sped across the threshold, 
spun to face into the maze, and 
rolled down it, swinging sharply left 
and right, back and forth, around 
the corners of the jagged corridor. 

Data poured into his sensors. His 
awareness was a steady thing of 
growing intensity now, and he fed 
avidly on every fragment of infor- 
mation that crashed at him from 
the strange new world into which 
he rushed headlong. He struggled 
to evaluate and file the data as rap- 
idly as it came to him. It seemed 
to exceed his capacity for instan- 
taneous evaluation to an increasing 
degree that began to alarm him. 
But driven by curiosity as he was, 
he could only hurry on. 

He burst into a huge room, a 
room filled with roaring, rattling 
sounds that meant nothing to him. 

Two men stood before him, mak- 
ing loud noises. He searched his 
memory, and discovered only frag- 
ments of the sounds they made filed 
there. His curiosity, bursting, was 
boundless, and for a moment he 
was unable to decide which thing 
in this expanding universe to pur- 
sue first. Attracted by their move- 
ment, he swung ominously toward 
the men. 

They fled, making more noises. 
This, tooj was data, and he filed it. 



WHEN SOKOLSKI pressed 
the red emergency button on 
his way out of the control room, 
several things commenced. Shrill 
sirens howled the length and 
breadth of the plant. Warning bells 



THE SMALL WORLD OF M-75 



49 



clanged out coded signals. A re- 
corded voice blurted out of a 
thousand loudspeakers scattered 
throughout the building. 

**Now hear this," said the tireless 
voice, over and over again. "Now 
hear this. Red red red. Pile trouble. 
Reactor A. Procedure One com- 
mence." 

Sokolski had certainly never 
pressed the red button before, and 
to his knowledge neither had any 
of his or Gaines' predecessors. It 
was the kind of button that, right- 
fully, ought never to be pressed. 
The laws of things in general sort of 
made it a comfort without much 
value. Pile trouble calling for the 
red button should really have elim- 
inated the red button and much 
surrounding territory long before it 
got pushed— or at least the sort of 
pile trouble its builders had in 
mind. Nonetheless, they had pro- 
vided it and the elaborate evacua- 
tion operation so cryptically de- 
scribed as Procedure One as a kind 
of psychological sop to the plant 
personnel. 

But the red button did more than 
activitate Procedure One, which 
was solely concerned with the plant. 
After all, power from the reactors 
was lighting the lights and cooking 
the breakfasts and flushing the toi- 
lets of untold millions scattered in 
half a dozen major cities. If there 
were some imminent possibility that 
the major source of their power 
might cease to exist rather sudden- 
ly, it was proper that they sliould be 
notified of this eventuality as much 
in advance as possible. Consequent- 
ly the activation of the red button 
and the commencement of Proce- 
dure One was paralleled by activi- 



ties hardly less frenzied in other 
places, far away. 

Emergency bells sounded and 
colored lights danced, martial laws 
automatically enacted by their 
sound and flicker. The wheels of 
crisis turned and spewed forth from 
their teeth rudely awakened police- 
men half out of uniform, military 
reservists called up to find them- 
selves patrolling darkened streets, 
emergency disaster crews assem- 
bling in fire houses and on ap- 
pointed street corners, doctors gath- 
ering in nervous clutches at fully 
aroused hospitals and waiting be- 
side ambulances tensed for wild 
dashes into full-scale disasters. 
Where it was night when the warn- 
ing sounded, darkness descended as 
desperate power conservation ef- 
forts were initiated; where it was 
daylight, the terrified populace 
waited in horror for the blackness 
of the unlit night. All of this, of 
course, took only minutes to get 
fully under way. 

Meanwhile, at the plant. Pro- 
cedure One continued in full wild 
tumultuous swing. 



M-75 DID NOT immediately 
follow Gaines and Sokolski 
out of the room. Fascinated by the 
multitude of new things surround- 
ing him on every side, he held back. 
He ghded over to the master con- 
trol panel, puzzled by its similarity 
to the board before which he had 
slaved so long, and lingered before 
it for a few seconds, wondering and 
comparing. Wlien he had recorded 
it completely on his tapes, he swung 
away and rolled out of the room in 
the direction the two men had gone. 



50 



ED M. CLINTON, JR. 



He found himself in a long, 
empty corridor, lined by open doors 
that flickered by, shutterlike, as he 
flashed past. Ahead he heard new 
sounds, sounds like the meaningless 
cacaphony the men had shouted at 
him before rushing off, superina- 
posed over the incessant background 
sounds — the shrilling, the clanging, 
the one particular repetitive pat- 
tern. Some of the sounds touched 
and tugged at him, but he shook 
them ofl' easily. 

The corridor led into the foyer 
of the building, jammed with plant 
personnel. Their excitement and 
noise-making rose sharply as he en- 
tered. The crowd drew tighter and 
the men began fighting one an- 
other, struggling to get through a 
door that was never meant to han- 
dle more than two at a time. 

M-75 skidded to a halt and 
watched, unmoving. He sensed 
their fright, even though he could 
not understand it. Although he was 
without human emotion, he could 
evaluate their inherent rejection of 
him in their action pattern. The 
realization of it made him hesitate; 
it was something for which he had 
no frame of reference whatsoever. 

His chest hummed and clicked. 
Here, again, in this room, was an- 
other new universe. Through the 
door streamed a light of a brilliance 
beyond anything in his experience; 
his photocells cringed before its 
very intensity. 

The light cast the shadows of the 
men fighting to get out, long black 
wavering silhouettes that splashed 
across the floor almost to where 
M-75 rested. He studied them, lost 
in uncertain analysis. 

He remained so, poised, alert, fil- 



ing, observing, all the while com- 
pletely unmoving, until long after 
the last of the shouting men had 
left the room. Only then did he 
move, hesitantly, toward the in- 
fernally fierce light. 

He hung at the brink of the three 
stone steps that fell away to the 
grounds outside. Vainly he sought 
in his memory tapes for a record of 
a brightness as intense as tliat which 
he faced now; sought for a color re- 
cording similar to the vast swash 
of blue that filled the world over- 
head; or for one of the spreading 
green that swelled to all sides. He 
found none. 

The vastness of the outside was 
utterly stunning. 

He felt a vague uneasiness, a sen- 
sation akin to the horrible frenzy he 
had felt earlier in the pile. 

He rotated from side to s;ide, his 
receptors sweeping the whole field 
of view before him. With infinite 
accuracy his perfect lenses recorded 
the data in all its minuteness, de- 
spite the dazzling sunlight. 

There was so much new that it 
was becoming difficult to make de- 
cisions. The vast rolling green, the 
crowds of men grouped far away 
and staring at him, above all the 
searing light. Abruptly he re- 
jected it all. He swung back into 
the foyer of the plant and faced a 
dark corner, bringing instant, es- 
sendal relief to his pulsating photo- 
cells. 

Staring into the semi -darkness, he 
re-ran the memory tape of his es- 
cape from the pile. The farther he 
had moved from the pile, it seemed, 
the less adjusted he had become, 
the less able he was to judge and 
correlate. 



THE SMALL WORLD OF M-75 



51 



Silently, lost in his computations, 
he rolled around and around the 
foyer for a long, long time. He be- 
came aware, finally, that the bril- 
liance outside had paled. He went 
again to the door and watched the 
fading sunlight, caught the rain- 
bow splendor that streaked the eve- 
ning sky. 

He waited there, fighting the re- 
luctance inside himself. The driving 
curiosity that had brought him this 
far overcame that curious, perplex- 
ing reticence, and he looked down 
at the steps and measured their 
width and depth so that he might 
set up a feedback pattern. This 
done, he bounced, almost jauntily, 
down them. 

He had rolled perhaps fifty feet 
down the smooth pathway curving 
across the grounds when he made 
out, clearly discernible in the gath- 
ering dusk, the three men and the 
machine that were moving toward 



him. It was the last bit of datum he 
ever filed. 

The demolition squad had fin- 
ished with the hot remains of M-75, 
and their big tiuck was coughing 
away into the night. One by one, 
the floodlights that had lighted 
their work flickered out. 

"Pretty delicate machines, after 
all," commented Sokolski. "One jolt 
from that flame thrower . . ." 

Gaines was silent as they walked 
back toward the plant. "Bert," he 
said slowly, "what the hell do you 
suppose got into him?" 

Sokolski shrugged. "You were the 
one who spotted the trouble with 
him, Joe. Just think, if you could 
have checked him out complete- 
ly— "_ 

Gaines could not help looking up 

at the stars and saying what he had 

really been thinking all along, "It's 

a small world, Bert, a small world." 

• • • THE END 





A MONSTER named Smith 



By James Gunn 

Illustrated by Paul Orbon 



It was alien, indestructible and mysterious — there- 
fore a terror and a menace. It was also alone, hungry 
and afraid — therefore prone to miscalculation. 
52 




PANIC! Isolation! Terror! 
Blind, mindless, insensate. Odor- 
less, dumb, deaf. Fear. 

Pressure from within, instinctive 
and powerful. Around it, a constric- 
tion. Cause unknown. Conflict. 
Pain. 

One sense remains. Listen! Send 
out feelers through the darkness! 
Somewhere there must be some- 
thing else alive. Somewhere there 
is a reason for fear. Listen! 

"The board shows a gap on Har- 
rison. If open, detail a company to 
close it up. General orders to all 
searching parties : every building 
will be thoroughly searched, inside 



53 



and out, top to bottom. Search ev- 
erything, in, under, above. Parties 
will not proceed until certain that 
every building is clear, every eavc 
and rooftop is clean." 

"Is that right, Mr. Gardner?" 
"Don't ask me," Gardner 
snapped. "Mr. Burke is in charge 
here." He turned to Burke. "As city 
manager, I can't permit the city to 
be shut down indefinitely on mere 
suspicion. Besides the personal dis- 
tress and inconvenience, this shut- 
down is costing the city millions of 
dollars an hour . . ." 

"Would you rather be a zombi — 
you and all the other millions of 
people in the city?" 



54 



JAMES GUNN 



"You have a wild imagination. 
You don't know that the thing can 
take over a man. You aren't even 
sure that it escaped. And if some- 
thing did escape, you can't be sure 
it's still alive. There was no reason 
for the declaration of martial law." 

"I'll give you a reason," Burke 
explained quietly. "The animal is 
dead. Cold, stony. No doubt about 
it. The deceleration killed it. With 
extraterrestrial fauna, we have to 
work fast. We can't be sure how 
soon decomposition will set in or 
how the internal organs will be af- 
fected. The body is in the examina- 
tion room, on the dissecting table, 
within minutes after landing. But 
before we can make an incision, 
something starts oozing out from 
under it. A black blob . . ," 

"Good God! What's that?" Dan- 
iels was more startled than afraid. 
He was staring at the sheep-like 
animal on the dissecting table. The 
scalpel was poised in his hand- 
Burke was afraid. He had been 
afraid for a long time. "Parasite," 
he said. He spat it out viciously, as 
if that would deny his fear. 

The inky blob continuel to ooze. 

Ellis, who had insisted, like 
Burke, on being present as an ob- 
server, was calm and analytical as 
usual. "Not necessarily," he said. 
"Gould be a symbiosis." 

"Symbiosis is a careful balance," 
Burke said violently. "For us it's a 
parasite. Dangerous. What 1 was 
afraid of all along." 

"Okay, okay," Daniels put in 
quickly. "The question is, what do 
we do with it?" 

"Kill it!" 

"How?" 



"Not so fast," Ellis said. "We 
can't be sure it^s dangerous. This 
opportunity might be unique." 

"It took over this thing," Burke 
pointed out. "It's an animal, like 
us. We can't take the chance that it 
could adapt itself to man," 

The blob oozed. It was bigger 
than a hand, now. 

"It has to have a means of propa- 
gation," Burke said, suppressing a 
shudder. "It's amorphous, like an 
amoeba. Binary fission is indicated. 
If so, then no one on Earth is safe. 
We sliouldn't have brought it 
back." 

The blob oozed. It was the size 
of a dinner plate. It had begun to 
thin out near the body. 

Ellis sighed. "Kill it." 

Daniels sliced down with the 
scalpel in his hand. It passed ef- 
fortlessly through the blob, as if 
through a shadow, and skidded 
along the stainless steel top of the 
table. The blob, uncut, continued 
to pull itself free of the animal. 

It was like a pool of ink. There 
was no smell to it and maybe no 
feel either, but no one offered to 
touch it. It was just black. Inno- 
cent, maybe, but black and alien 
and therefore evil. 

Daniels was shaken. Without rea- 
son. 

"Obviously it can't be cut or shot 
or hurt by any such weapon," Burke 
said impatiently. 

"Well, do something," Daniels 
stammered. "Don't just stand there 
talking about it. It's pulling Itself 
free. It'll be coming after one of us 
in a minute." 

Ellis glanced around the room. 
"The door's closed. Nobody leaves 
here." 



A MONSTER NAMED SMITH 



55 



"What good will that do," Dan- 
iels objected strenuously, "if it can 
interpenetrate matter?" 

"Flesh and steel are two different 
substances. It hasn't entered the 
table." 

"You mean we're stuck here with 
that thing until it gets us or we can 
find a way to kill it?" Daniels 
sliouted. 

Ellis nodded impatiently. "Obvi- 
ously." He studied the room again. 
"Somewhere within these walls we 
have to find a weapnn or a poison." 

By now Burke had collected a Ut- 
ter of bottles from the reagent cabi- 
net. He tried them on the blob. 
Acids and bases, one by one they 
poured into the blackness and 
fumed together and dripped onto 
the floor to eat holes in the rubber- 
ized covering. The body of the ani- 
mal began to dissolve in the grow- 
ing puddle on the tabic. The stench 
of the chemicals and their reaction:^ 
was almost stifling. Nobody seemed 
to notice. 

The blob pulled and thinned and 
grew larger and remained unaltered 
by the chemicals. Burke looked 
around hastily. He grabbed up a 
burner, turned it on, lit it. It burned 
blue and hot. 

He held it upside down, pointed 
toward the black pool. The blob 
squirmed. Burke pressed the burner 
close. The blob moved quickly, 
moved away from the flame, and as 
it moved the last strand of blackness 
pulled loose from the dissolving, 
alien body, 

"Quick!" Daniels said hysterical- 
ly. "Before it gets away! It's afraid 
of the fire!" 

Burke hadn't waited. He held the 
flame as close to the blob as he 



would get it. "We need a blow- 
torch," he said. 

The blob squirmed. It flowed 
away from the flame, across the ta- 
ble, and the flame looked as if it 
turned back from the blackness. 
But it wasn't that. There just wasn't 
enough gas pressure. The flame 
curled up naturally. 

The darkness wavered. Its edges 
curling. It wriggled and began to 
flap, first one side and then the oth- 
er, alternating. Slowly, awkwardly, 
it began to fly. It climbed into the 
air and circled around the room 
silently, a blot of darkness. 

"Close tlic ventilators!" Ellis said 
quickly. 

Burke raced to the side of the 
room and pulled the switch that 
slipped steel shutters across the 
gratings. 

"Oh God, oh God!" Daniels was 
saying. He cringed beside the ta- 
ble, shaking, as the blackness 
swooped close. 

"The interpenetration is obvi- 
ously variable," Ellis said. "Other- 
wise it couldn't fly." 

"Or the only thing it can pene- 
trate is flesh," Burke amended. He 
was searching the room for another 
weapon, futilely. 

The circular shadow flapped its 
way high into one corner of the 
room. It pressed itself against the 
ceiling and clung, unmoving. It 
looked like a black stain. They 
stared up at it, the three of them, 
with different eyes. Ellis was curi- 
ous; Burke was murderous; Daniels 
was terror-stricken. 

Daniels moved. 

"Stay away from that door!" El- 
lis snapped. 

Daniels stopped. He was shaking 



56 



JAMES GUNN 



as he looked back over his shoulder. 
"We can't kill it," he said. His 
voice shook, too. *'What do we do? 
Wait here until it decides which 
one of us it wants?"- 

"If we have to," Ellis sajd. 

"The question is, how long can it 
live outside a host?" Burke said. *'It 
isn't breathing. Presumably, it can't 
eat in its present form. But it does 
use up energy. If we can't kill it, we 
can starve it to death." 

"Unless we starve first/' Daniels 
moaned. 

"We'll run out of air before 
then." Ellis observed. 

"We'll have to take a chance. 
One of us will leave for a blow- 
torch," Burke said. 

"Me!" Daniels panted. "Me!" 

"I'm staying here," Burke said. 
"I don't want to let it out of my 
sight. You're staying here, too, Dan- 
iels. We want someone who will 
come back." He looked at Ellis ; 
Ellis nodded. "I'll stand guard in 
front of the door with the burner. 
If you open the door just a crack, 
you can slip through before it can 
move." 

Daniels was standing by the ta- 
ble where the animal was half-dis- 
solved. His eyes were wild and 
staring. 

The burner hose wouldn't reach 
to the door. Burke pulled oflT his 
shirt, looked at Ellis, who was 
standing beside the door, and held 
his shirt close to the flame. The 
shirt smoked and started to burn. In 
two quick steps Burke was in front 
of the door, his back to it, his eyes 
on the blot of darkness that clung 
to the ceiling. 

"Go!" he said. 

Ellis moved. And the blot moved, 



swooping down at Burke. Burke 
waved the flaming shirt. The door 
behind him slipped open. The blot 
swerved in the air, away from the 
flames. It headed straight for Dan- 
iels. Daniels screamed. He put his 
arms around his head and sprinted 
blindly for the door. 

The blot followed him, only a 
foot behind. Burke glanced at them, 
at Daniels and the blot, and he 
tried to do two things at once. He 
lowered his shoulder at Daniels and 
tossed the burning shirt at the blot. 
Somehow, both missed. Daniels 
sidestepped instinctively, and the 
blot swerved in the air. 

Flesh smacked solidly against 
flesh. Something snapped. As Burke 
spun around, he caught a glimpse 
of the blot slipping through the 
door. Daniels was gone. 

"Commander!" Burke gasped. 
"What happened?" 

Ellis raised a white face from the 
floor. "Broken leg/' he said, and 
fainted. 

Burke turned and ran toward the 
intercom. "Air lock guard," he 
snapped. "Close the lock. Emer- 
gency." 

Trained responses were quick. No 
one questioned orders like that. 
Burke heard the whirring of mo- 
tors. Something clanged shut, with 
finality. 

"What's up?" asked a tinny voice. 

"Anything get out that lock in 
the last second or two?" Burke 
asked quickly. 

"Nobody." 

"Anything, I said!" 

"Well, no — I mean — I don't 
think so. I had a feeling that some- 
tiiing brushed past me like — like — '* 

"Like what?" 



A MONSTER NAMED SMITH 



57 



"Well, like a bat. Only it wasn't 
a bat. What's going on any-way?" 

"Hell to pay! Com room! Com 
room! Put the radar on a small ob- 
ject, about the size of a bird, flying 
out from the ship! Whatever you 
do, don't lose it! Then get Wasli- 
ington. Secspacc. I'll be there in 
five seconds. Doc! To the examina- 
tion room on the double. Com- 
mander's got a broken leg. And 
send two men to pick up Daniels 
and hold him for observation. He's 
hysterical. Leaving now for the 
Com room. OfT!" 

Shock.' Identity! 
Terror! Conflict! Pain! Isolation! 
We are one. Once we were many. 
Remember. Remember! 

The object falling from the sky, 
gleaming in the sunlight, gleam 
dimmed by a shortening leg of 
flame. 

Scatter, brothers! 

Much later, the object opening 
a mouth, black against the shiny 
skin. Is the object hungry? 

Run, brothers! 

Things coming out, climbing 
down, standing on the ground, two- 
legged, tall. Beings. 

Listen, brothers! 

"Sheep! I'll be damned. Nodiing 
but sheep!" 

"Don''t be fooled. They're more 
than sheep." 

"Well, look at them. What would 
you call them?" 

"Yes, look at them. See them 
standing there looking at us, as if 
they could understand everything 
we say." 

"Now, Burke, don't let your im- 



agination run away with you. I 
agree, it's unlikely that they're iden- 
ticaJ with our Earth sheep, but they 
look like them and we might as well 
call them that." 

"It's a dangerous mental trick, 
Commander. Wc delude ourselves 
into thinking wc understand them 
when wc give them a name." 

"Maybe they look to you like 
they're listening to us, but my guess 
is that it's curiosity. After all, we're 
the only other beings they've ever 
seen.'* 

"That's just it. Where's the rest 
of the fauna? We've scouted every 
land mass, and these are the only 
animals we've seen. How do you ac- 
count for that?" 

"Why iJiould we have to?" 

"Oh, God preserve us!" 

"Be a little patient, Burke. We 
all aren't ecologists. The others may 
not see what's so obvious to you. 
What's you're trying to say is that 
evolution wouldn't produce just 
one species." 

"What do you think! Look at this 
world. As pretty as a spring day. 
Mild. Gentle. And inhabited by 
nothing but these herbivores. And 
not very many of them, either." 

"I've seen plenty of them." 

"Not under the circumstances." 

"And you think these sheep 
wiped out all the rest of the 
fauna?" 

"Obviously." 

"It could have been natural con- 
ditions." 

"That destroyed everything but 
these things? Nonsense." 

"Well, then, they wiped out the 
rest. So what?" 

"How? Man has been top dog 
on Earth for a long, long time, and 



58 



JAMES GUNN 



we haven't even come close to wip- 
ing out our pests and carnivores. 
As bloodthirsty as we are. What 
does that make these things? It 
makes them the mast deadly crea- 
tures we've ever known." 

"These sheep? Nuts!" 

"It is a little farfetched, Burke." 

"Think of this, then. What keeps 
their numbers down? With all this 
grazing land available, there's only 
a fraction of the number of these 
creatures that there should be. With 
no natural enemies, with nothing to 
prey on them, according to Malthu- 
sian law tliey should expand in the 
presence of abundant food to the 
limit of the land to feed them, and 
a little beyond. Like the rabbits in 
Australia. Or man himself." 

"Maybe their natural enemies are 
small. Insects. Germs and viruses. 
Or maybe they're almost sterile." 

*'And maybe they control their 
breeding. Or maybe it's controlled 
for them. That's something we've 
never been able to do. That fright- 
ens me more than the other." 

"You've just set foot on this 
world and you're frightened al- 
ready. What will you be like be- 
fore we're ready to leave?" 

"Gibbering. You think that's 
funny, but a sensible man knows 
when to be frightened. I'm afraid 



Hosts! The thought was startling 
and puzzled. Hosts, brothers, with- 
out directors! Self-directed hosts 
that have come from a long way off 
in that thing they call a ship, from 
the nightlights, where all are like 
they are. Danger! 

Later. Much later. 



"I guess we're done. The map- 
ping is finished. The ship is 
crammed with samples of every- 
thing we could lay our hands on. 
The really thorough analysis will 
have to wait until we get back to 
Earth. But from our investigations 
we can report that the expedition 
exceeded our fondest hopes. I don't 
see why colonization can't begin 
immediately. We take off tomor- 
row," 

"Samples of everything? You've 
forgotten one. We haven't any 
sheep." 

"Haven't seen any for weeks. 
They've disappeared. Just after 
Daniels decided he wanted one for 
dissection." 

"Doesn't that seem significant to 
you?" 

"Now, Burke. Let's not get 
started on that again." 

"I suggest we put out traps to- 
night. I don't feel that this survey 
is complete when we don't have any 
specimens of the dominant form 
of life. The form of life, for that 
matter." 

"No! I don't agree. Taking back 
specimens before wc understand 
them would be incredibly danger- 
ous. We don't know anything about 
them. Give them a chance to get 
loose on Earth, and we might have 
the story of the rabbits in Australr 
ia all over again." 

"There's no chance of that, 
Burke. We aren't going to give them 
a chance to get loose. And we've 
seen nothing to indicate that they're 
dangerous. You've been studying 
them ever since we landed, and you 
haven't discovered anything." 

"A negative answer that's prac- 
tically worthless. As you pointed out 



A MONSTER NAMED SMITH 

a moment ago, they all disappeared 
weeks ago. As long as I don't have 
nnswcrs to the two questions I sug- 
gested when we first landed, I must 
regard them as the most dangerous 
things we've ever pncountered. How 
did they kill off their competitors? 
And what controls their breeding?" 

"I'm afraid Sccspace wouldn't 
look at it that way. I'm afraid we 
would bo considered derelict in our 
duties if we returned without a 
specimen. Although I'll put your 
protest on record, of course." 

"A specimen, you said?" 

"All right, Burke. Just one. 
There can't be any danger of them 
multiplying. Will that satisfy you?" 

"No. We can't be sure that they 
propagate sexually. Not without 
dissection which we haven't been 
able to perform. But if it's the only 
concession I can get — " 

"It is. And you can console your- 
self with the hope that the traps 
will be empty tomorrow morning, 
as they have been every other morn- 
ing." 

A specimen, brothers. One of us. 
One? What is that? A host and a 
director. One must go. Or they wilt 
return to exterminate vs, as we ex- 
terminated the others. One must go. 
Which one? One ready for division. 
One of us. This part of us. Go. 

A belonging. We are not a wholS, 
but a part of. We have a mission. 

The pressure from within con- 
tinues. It is agony, but it is agony 
located and identified. We must 
divide. That is it. TTiat is the pres- 
sure. Wc are one. Once we were 
many. We mast be loany again. 

But there is terror, and while 



59 

there is terror we cannot divide- 
Fear is a force that binds us 
around, that closes us in so tight we 
cannot divide. We need peace. We 
must have peace. But we are en- 
circled by enemies who seek to de- 
stroy us. They will destroy us. un- 
less we destroy them first. But we 
are one, and they are many. 

Learn. Learn the dangers of this 
alien world. Learn the powers of 
these alien beings. Learn survival. 
Back. Back to the Enemy . . , 



TROOPS equipped with flame- 
throwers will lead the advance. 
They will fire at anything black, 
any spot, any shadow. They will 
fire first and ask questions after- 
wards." 

"Good God, Burke! Don't let 
that order go out! You don't know 
what you're saying. Think what will 
happen if you tell soldiers to shoot 
at anything!" 

"I'm thinking what will happen 
if they don't. There shouldn't be 
anybody inside that area except the 
searching parties. And firemen and 
equipment are following the sol- 
diers in to put out the fires . . . Air 
patrol ! All flame-thrower equipped 
helicopters will fire at any small fly- 
ing object, bird or bat. Particularly 
bats. They will keep pace with the 
ground forces working in." 

"But you don't even know that 
the thing is in the city!'* 

"We followed it by radar from 
the ship until we lost It over the 
center of the city. By that time 
the permanent radar installations 
around the city were alerted, and 
we had a line of helicopters shoot- 
ing down everything Uiat flies. Ra- 



60 



JAMES GUNN 



dar didn't pick up a thing. Don't 
worry, we'll get it. We'll find it and 
destroy it." 

"But will there be anything left 
when you get through. You're the 
kind who would burn down a house 
to get rid of termites!" 

"Mr. Gardner. City manager or 
not, one more outburst and I'll 
have you ejected from primary con- 
trol. You're here to help us with 
your knowledge of the city, and all 
I've heard so far is objections to 
everything we do." 

"Looters, Mr. Burke. Looters re- 
ported inside the cordon." 

"That area has to be kept clear. 
The soldiers will shoot them down 
on sight. Put that announcement 
out through every media, radio, 
television, loudspeakers. The bodies 
will be incinerated where they fall. 
All animals will receive the same 
treatment. Let nothing that moves 
slip through the cordon. . . .'* 

That is the Enemy. Shrewd and 
murderous. If we could only kill 
him — But there is no chance. He is 
too well guarded. 

We are growing weak. We are 
not meant for this kind of existence. 
The escape, the long flight, and 
now the internal struggle to divide, 
stifled by terror, has sapped our 
strength. We need food. For that 
we must have a host. Where are we. 
How close are the searchers and 
their flames? 

Wc are blind without a host. We 
starve without a host. And yet we 
had no choice. We had to leave our 
old host because it was dead. We 
had to leave it to divide. And now 
there is no peace, and we cannot 
divide. 



We can kill many of them, but 
eventually they will destroy us. We 
can swoop down on them and 
touch them with death, but they 
would turn their flames upon us, 
and we would die. We felt it there 
in the ship, when the flame was 
turned toward us. We felt that we 
had never known before, the possi- 
bility of death. We, who arc Im- 
mortal, could die. 

Reach out, reach out! Find the 
searchers ! How close are they ? 
How do they work? Find out, so 
that we can plan. 

We reach. We fumble. We see . . . 

The ni^t lit with brief, oily 
flares that shred the darkness. The 
marching ranks, watchful, ready. 
The machines, rolling, ponderous. 
The bright lights that roam ahead 
and around and up. 

"My God, Joe, look at It! An 
army! What the hell's it all for?" 

"You know as much as I do. 
They just turned us out in the mid- 
dle of the night and rushed us up 
here like somebody's pants was on 
fire. Look for something! What? 
Hell, I don't know. Shoot at any- 
thing that moves! Shoot at shad- 
ows! With flame throwers! Some- 
body's gone off his nut, I guess." 

A shadow leaps in a shielded cor- 
ner. A nozzle spits greasy, licking 
flame. Wood smokes and then 
bums. A stream of water hisses on 
it, turning into steam. 

"Hah!" 

The marching ranks halt. The 
machines stop. Only the lights keep 
moving. The helicopters hang mo- 
tionless in the air above, black noz- 
zles poking out from them like a 
dragon's smoky nostrils, landing 



A MONSTER NAMED SMITH 



61 



lights burning down onto the roof- 
tops. 

"Company A will take the build- 
ing to the right. Company B will 
take the building to the left. They 
wilt work their way to the top and 
onto the roof. From the top story 
windows they will look up toward 
the eaves. Burn anything black, 
any shadow, anything. Firemen will 
follow with hand extinguishers. Re- 
maining companies will stay in 
ranks until the search is completed. 
Get going!" 

Up through the building, search- 
ing for shadows. Climbing long 
steps, peering up and down 
elevator shafts, inspecting every 
cranny, drawer, crack. Lifting rugs, 
turning over furniture, removing 
cushions. Shooting fire at shadows. 

Up and up. Feeling a little silly, 
but impressed, somehow, by the 
size of the operation, and the ser- 
iousness, and being thorough be- 
cause the captain is watching. A 
shot, below in the street, echoing 
up. Rush to the window; peer out. 
A civilian is in the street below, 
stretched out. You know that he is 
dead. As you watch, flame black- 
ens the body, eats at it until there 
h only a cinder. 

"What's the matter, boy? Nerv- 
ous?" 

"Hell, yes! Ain't you?" 

And eventually you go down and 
out and the ranks march on a few 
paces and halt and this time it is 
your turn to wait in the street while 
other companies search. In the dis- 
tance you can see other helicopters 
hovering, their lights brilliant, a 
circle of them. The center seems to 
be the black hulk of the public li- 
brary . . . 



Hopeless! They are all around, 
these alien killers, these hosts with- 
out directors. We are one, and they 
are many. We despair. We will die 
here, wherever we are. We can 
reach out and feel them, closing in 
upon us from every direction. The 
circle draws in upon us, nearer, 
nearer . . , 

And someone approaches. We 
sense the thought, slow and stum- 
bling. It is not one of the searchers. 
They are still fairly distant. He 
looks up. 

"Public library. Nothing there. 
Nothing but books. Got to hurry. 
They'll be here soon. Before that I 
got to find me a place to sleep or 
seem Hke it. They're killing people. 
Christ!" 

A chance, a chance. The thought 
sings through us like a surge of 
energy. He is below. We sense him 
there. That means that we are 
above him, clinging under the roof 
of the building he thinks of as the 
public library. 

Will he welcome us or fight? Is 
he weak or strong? It does not mat- 
ter. Wc have no choice. We must 
take the chance. If we can get 
nourishment and sight, if we can 
get outside the searchers, we can 
reach a place of safety and peace 
where we can leave him, where we 
can divide. And it must be soon. He 
will die, of course, and it is unfor- 
tunate. But we have no choice. 

Let loose, now. Release our hold. 
Fall through the air, fluttering at 
first, then swoooping down upon 
him. Wc reach out to him, and he 
suspects nothing. His mind is busy 
with other things, the things he is 
looking for, like the things he has 
hidden in his pockets. 



62 



JAMES GUNN 



Down upon him. Closer. Slowly 
now. He fccis nothing as we light. 
His thoughts move on, busy, roiled. 
Let the probes reach in through the 
back of the ncr.k, delicately. There! 

He stands stiffly, immobile, a 
Bcream echoing through his mind, 
silent, unvoiced. But as wc go in, 
he shrinks back, not fighting, some- 
how relieved, and we are puzzled, 
Wc did not think it would be so 
easy. But it cannot matter, and we 
must hurry. We sink through t}ie 
back of his neck, following the 
probe that seized the control centers 
of the brain. 

Quickly we send microscopic 
feelers down through the nerve net- 
work, branching, branching, until 
they reach the ends of the e-xtrcmi- 
ties and dig down into the deepest,' 
smallest organs of the body. We 
test out the network gently, and 
control is effective. Before we go 
any further, we must take precau- 
tions. Jerkily, unsteadily, we move 
the body into the shadows. Clum- 
sily, we lay the body down beside 
the building. We relax it all over. 
The searchers will have to be al- 
most upon us before they see. 

Relaxed, the body is more acces- 
sible, and we are eager; we are hun- 
gry. Fecleri reach out through the 
blood vessels, absorbing food as 
they go. When that circuit is com- 
pleted, wc are satiated. Our hunger 
is appeased. We feel a relaxation 
ourselves, a lowering of our aware- 
ness, and we must fight it. There is 
much to do; there is no time for 
relaxation. 

Now wc must take the last step. 
We hesitate, not knowing why we 
hesitate, and we send out a final set 
of feelers through the alien brain. 



searching for the seat of memory. 
We find it. We begin to learn. We 
learn more as we go deeper. We 
learn a new identity. 



MY NAME is Smith. George 
Smith. I am a laborer. I have a 
wife and four children. An identi- 
fication card in my billfold de- 
scribes a man, but it isn't me. Thirty 
years old, it says. Brown hair, brown 
eyes. Five feet nine. One hundred 
sixty pounds. Scar on right fore- 
head. Tatoo of woman on left fore- 
arm. That isn't me. Figures He. I 
am bigger than that; I am taller 
than that. I am only working as a 
laborer until something better 
comes along. 

I've been picking up things that 
people left behind when they were 
ordered out of here. They call it 
looting, but it isn't that. It isn't 
stealing. Somebody else will take 
the things if 1 don't. The soldiers 
— don't tell me that they don't do 
all right by themselves when they 
go through those places. Besides, 
the things belong to me as much a.1 
anybody else . . . 

It goes on and on, not like that, 
slow and ponderous, but as swiftly 
as thought spanning the galaxy un- 
til we know almost as much about 
Smith as he knows, and maybe 
more. We do not enjoy it. The un- 
pleasantness of the man named 
Smith is only part of the price we 
must pay. But we hold back a lit- 
tle still, and it consoles us that wc 
will leave him when his body has 
taken us to a place of safety and 
peace. But wc will still have his 
memories. They will stay with U9 
forever. 



A MONSTER NAMED SMITH 

The automatic processes of the 
feelers have begnn. Subtly the body 
is strengthened. Glands are stimu- 
lated. Tissues are regenerated. 
Wastes and old, accumulated poi- 
sons are removed. But basically we 
do not change anything. The man 
named Smith must remain physi- 
cally the same and undetectable. It 
is irony that the body we have taken 
possession of is now almost immor- 
tal. It is vulnerable only to acci- 
dents. Our automatic responses will 
repel disease and revitalize aging 
tissues and perform innumerable 
other tasks which protoplasmic bod- 
ies can do poorly, if at all. The ca- 
pabilities are there, but the inef- 
ficient brain does not use them. The 
body is immortal, and yet, when we 
leave, it must die. 

Now, of all the possible hosts on 
Earth, this one has a director; it 
can enjoy the blessings of sanity 
and direction. 

It has been a rape, not the meet- 
ing of two mutually acquiescent 
parts, incomplete in themselves, to- 
gether a whole entity which is more 
than the sum of both. With our for- 
mer host, it had been a pleasant, 
gently sensual experience of unit- 
ing and sharing, and afterwards it 
had been a completeness, a partner- 
ship by which both parties profited. 
Here there had been no chance of 
that. We knew it from the begin- 
ning. These things called men are 
too independent. 

Now we have an identity. Sur- 
vival dictates that we become that 
identity. We must act like it; a slip 
means destruction. We must think 
like it. We must be "we" no longer. 
We are one. We are I. I am a man 
named Smith. 



6a, 

I OPEN my eyes and see. Lights 
are close. I see them shining, 

burning, only a block or two away. 
On the other side, too, they will be 
as close, or closer, and all around. 
Soon they will be here, and I must 
think quickly. For they will shoot 
this body, and I would have to 
leave again, and this time there 
would be no second chance. 

There are things in my pockets 
tliat do not belong to me. If they 
are found on me, it will be dis- 
astrous. 1 take them out, rings, 
watches, money, and I drop them 
through the grating on which I lie. 
But there is one thing in the pock- 
ets I do not drop. It is a bottle. It 
is a small bottle; it fits in my hand, 
sloshing gently. I raise it to my lips 
with a gesture that is almost auto- 
matic, my nostrils wrinkling away 
from the sharp odor. I drink. I 
cringe from the body's reaction, 
and then I drink again and let some 
of the liquid dribble down my chin 
onto my clothes. 

I listen. I hear a shot, not far 
away. Somebody screams and is si- 
lent. 

The next moment a blinding 
light shines through my closed eye- 
lids. 

I make a loud, breathing noise, 
trying to hide my fear. I lie there, 
wondering if they will shoot or 
bum me with flames, and the mo- 
ment is eternity. 

"Oh, hell! It's only a drunk!'* 

"We oughta shoot him. That's 
our orders." 

"Look at him. He musta been 
layin' there all night." 

"I can't shoot him. Can you?" 

"Let's take him to the Captain." 

"Wake up, there! Wake up!" 



64 



JAMES GUNN 



Prodding. Eyes fluttering open, 
peering out, glazed and dull, into 
the light. One arm coming up 
across the eyes, protectively. 

"Hey you! Get up!" 

"Whassa matter? Whass goin' 
on?" 

"Get up. Up on your feet!" 

"Can't man lay down for a little 
snooze? Eh?" 

"Come on! Get up! We aJn't got 
all nig^ht.*' 

"Aw rig;ht, aw right." 

I wobble to my feet. 1 stand there 
swaying. I sec their noses wrinkling, 
and I smell the sharp odor again. 
They close in upon mc. They lead 
me ofT. I stumble along between 
them, my head drooping, for an in- 
terminable time. 

"What's your name?" 

"Name? Name's Smith. George 
Smith. What's yours?" 

"Ugh! Search his pockets. Get 
out his identity card, too." 

They fumble through my pockets 
and pull out my billfold. The world 
wants to spin around me. I let it 
spin. 

"Occupation?" 

"Eh?" 

"What's your line of work?" 

"Work for Ricger. Warehouse. 
Big man, Rieger. Lotsa money, lotsa 
'nfluence. 'Ma union man. Citizen. 
Got my rights." 

"What were you doing here?'* 

"Can't man lay down for little 
snooze? Eh? No law 'gainst it. Eh? 
Broke a law or somethin'? Pay fine? 
Okay." I reach fumblingly for my 
billfold. It is gone. I let my hand 
drop. 

"Oh, hell! Let him go! Give him 
back his billfold, and one of you 
had better escort him through the 



lines. Get his head shot ofT other- 
wise." 

A long, stumbling walk through 
darkness and sudden light, alternat- 
ing, until suddenly there is nothing 
but darkness, and we stop. 

"Okay, Bud. You're out. From 
here on, you're on your own. Just 
keep heading that way, and I hope 
you don't remember anything in 
the morning. Because if you do, 
you'll start shaking and you won't 
be able to stop." 

I am shaking now, inside. I am 
weak as he disappears into the dark, 
and I don't know whether it is he- 
cause I am unused to this alien 
body or because of the liquid I 
drank which my feelers have picked 
up from the veins. I reach out 
again. I reach out to contact the 
Enemy again, and it is more diffi- 
cult now, because of the body or the 
liquid or the weak shaking, but I 
find him at last. 

"It isn't over. The search can't 
be over. They haven't found it yet." 

**They've met. The searching 
parties have come together. They've 
gone all over the public library, and 
there isn't any place else for them 
to search. Relax, Burke, the thing 
is dead." 

"No, no, Ellis. It's alive, I tell 
you. They missed it somewhere. 
You haven't been on top of this 
thing like I have. While you've been 
getting your leg set, I've been di- 
recting this operation, and I've got 
a feeling for it. The monster is 
lurking somewhere. It isn't dead." 

"You've been with it too long. 
You've been with it ever since we 
landed on that damned planet. Now 
it's hard for you to realize that it's 



A MONSTER NAMED SMITH 



65 



over. Look at it logically. The sol- 
diers went over that section of town 
with a tea strainer. They didn't miss 
a thing. You've done a good job, 
Burke. I'll see that you get credit 
for it." 

"Damn it, I don't want credit. 
I want that thing dead. I want to 
see it for myself and know it's dead. 
I don't want to dream about it any 
more. If the troops got it, why 
didn't they report that they had?" 

"How long do you think it would 
Ia.st in the inferno of a flame throw- 
er? I saw them working as I came 
across town. Whoosh! Whoosh! 
Firing at shadows. And that's how 
it would vanish. Just like a shadow. 
No one would know. It's inciner- 
ated now; there's nothing left." 

"Yes, and maybe it's hiding some- 
where. Some cranny that the sol- 
diers missed. They aren't perfect. 
A crack in the pavement. A water 
pipe. A thousand places they 
wouldn't tliink of." 

"And starved to death. It wasn't 
meant to live independently. It was 
a parasite, which means that it 
couldn't exist for very !ong without 
a host." 

"Not necessarily. Some parasites 
have a free-living stage ; others 
have one or more intermediate 
hosts. But analogies are u-ielcss and 
deceptive. This isn't one of our 
parasites. It's extraterrestrial, and 
it may not follow terrestrial pat- 
terns. Even granting that it would 
die within a few hours of free-liv- 
ing, that leaves one terrible possi- 
bility." 

"What*s Uiat?" 

"Maybe it found a host." 

"An animal, you mean? A dog or 
a cat? Or a bird?" 



"Or a man.** 

"But you ordered all the looters 
shot." 

"I know, I know. But if only one 
escaped, through somebody's care- 
lessness or sonibody's misplaced 
softness. ..." 



IT IS FOLLY to linger hero in the 
darkness any longer. But I hesi- 
tate, and I catch one la^:t thought. 

"There's only one thing to do. 
Nobody leaves the city until we've 
checked on them. All animals are 
to be incinerated. We'll have to 
have the biggest manhunt and ex- 
termination this country has ever 
seen . . ." 

I hurry away. I don't much care 
which way I go, and I walk pur- 
poselessly along the dark streets, 
spotted occasionally with overhang- 
ing lights. I can't leave the city. 
Not now, anyway. I will have to 
wait until their measures fail. They 
must fail, now, and their only 
chance is for me to make a slip. If 
I can act Hke all the rest of the 
hosts, I will be safe and they wilt 
finally give up. 

Meanwhile die pressure to divide, 
submerged for the moment, will 
grow stronger and stronger inside 
me, inside this alien body. I will 
have to keep it for awhile yet. and 
I hate every moment of it. It is a 
leaden weight I am forced to push 
along. It is stubborn and Heshy and 
stupid. 

My feet turn at a lighted door- 
way, and I push myself inside a 
room before I can stop. I stand in 
the doorway, blinking, wondering 
why I have come in, and it is a 
strange thing to be wondering. 



66 



JAMES GUNN 



"George!" someone says. 

It is a woman, a female. She 
throws a soft arm around my neck 
and drags mc farther into the room. 
The lights fight unsuccessfully 
through a smoky haze. There are 
hoothfi along the sides, and chairs 
and tables in the center, and a bar 
across the other end of the room. 

"Where you been?" the woman 
asks. 

T search through Smith's memory 
for a face and a name, and I find 
them. Dolores. "I been watching 
the soldiers, Dolores," I say. 

It is important that I do not 
artyuse suspicions. In the next few 
days questions will be asked. I 
would like to leave this place, but 
I do not dare. There was something 
about Dolores in the memories I 
could not force myself to search. I 
must wait a little until my leaving 
will go unnoticed. 

"What they lookin* for, hey, 
George?" 

"How do I know? I'm a mind 
reader or something?" 

"I bet it's a bomb. Somebody 
planted a bomb, and they're lookin' 
for it. That's it, I bet." 

"Maybe. They were shooting 
people." 

"No kiddin' ! Here, have a drink." 

A glass is thrust into my hand. A 
head is leaned against my chest ; 
tangled hair brushes irritatingly 
against my face. 

"Phew! You already had a few." 

"So what?" 

She leads me to a booth and 
forces me down into it and slides 
in beside me, her thigh hot against 
mine. "You ain't drinkln* George," 
she complains loudly. She leans to- 
ward me. "What you get?" she 



whispers. 

I reach into her mind, reluc- 
tantly, shuddering at the maelstrom 
of twisted thoughts and fears and 
hopes and passions. She and Smith 
had been intimate. Just tonight she 
persuaded Smith to sneak into the 
closed area to pick up whatever he 
could find. 

"Nothin'," I say. 

"Nothin' !" She says it loudly, 
angrily. Quickly, she begins to 
whisper again. "What you mean by 
that? Why didn't you get anything? 
What are you trying to do, hold out 
on me?" 

"Oh, shut up!" 

"Maybe you think you can push 
me around," she says, her voice 
rising. "Maybe you think you can 
cheat me and get away with it. 
Think again. Remember, I can tell 
them you was in there. They 
wouldn't like that, I bet. I bet I 
could get you in a lot of trouble." 

"For God's sake, .shut up!" I 
whisper violently. '"You'll get us 
both in trouble. Don't you under- 
stand? I couldn't get in. They were 
shooting people, anybody they saw, 
and then they were burning them. 
Maybe you'd rather I was laying 
in there, dead and fried.*' 

She sags against the back of the 
booth ; her body is a mass of fat 
curves with creases between them. 
"Oh, well, it was a chance. What 
we couldn't have done with a few 
thousand, eh, Georgie?" Her voice 
is wistful. "You could have skipped 
out on your wife and brats, and I 
could have skipped with you, and 
we couldVe ditched this town and 
had a gay old time. Oh, hell! Drink 
up, Georgie. Tomorrow we die." 

I raise the glass and take a swal- 



A MONSTER NAMED SMITH 



67 



low and almost gag. I feel it bum 
down my throat and lay burning 
in the pit of my stomach. The 
rising fumes make my head swim. 
Her leg presses more firmly against 
mine as she leans over against me 
and puts, her arms around mc and 
lays her head on my shoulder. 

"We still got our health, eh, 
Georgie?" she says, "We still got 
each other." 

"Yeah," I say. 

"Gome on up to ray room," she 
whispers. "We'll show the world 
what we care." 

I catch a glimpse of her mind. It 
is wide open, and I am sickened. 
I try not to show it. I try to act 
reluctant. 

"Can't," I say, and the words are 
difficult to get out as if the lips are 
trying to form another word. "Late 
now. I got to work tomorrow. And 
Agnes is gonna raise hell as it is." 

She sits up sullenly. "Funny you 
never thought of any of that be- 
fore." 

The thing I want most in the 
world is to stop touching her. "I 
had a bad time tonight," I say. "A 
coupla times they almost caught 
me." 

"Poor GeorgieT" she says quickly, 
sympathetically. Her hand reaches 
out to stroke my face. "I didn't 
know it was gonna be that bad." 

I try to stand up. The room 
wobbles. "I got to get out of here," 
I say. "I don't feel good." 

"Sure,^ George. Finish your 
drink." 

I hesitate, and the glass is half- 
way to my lips before I know it, 
and I let it come the rest of the way 
and drink it down. She slips out of 
!the booth, and I slip out, and she 



stands next to me, hanging on my 
shoulder. 

"Tomorrow night?" she whispers. 

The body feels sick, and I feel 
sick inside the body. But it's worse 
than that. I'm afraid. 

"Yeah," I get out through stiff 
lips, and I find my mouth brushing 
against hers, and I pull myself away. 
I thread my way between the tables, 
unsteadily, and I get out into the 
night, and I'm breathing deeply. 

The next thing I know I'm 
climbing steep steps in a dark cor- 
ridor, and I don't know how I got 
there. 

I'm not climbing alone. Fear is 
climbing with me. 



I CLIMB and I turn and I climb 
again, and the darkness is thick 
with stale odors of cooked food. I 
try to figure out what I'm doing 
here and how I got here, but I feel 
vague and feeble, and the body, 
staggering a little, keeps climbing 
purposefully. Except that it can*t 
have a purpose; I am its purpose. 
I can stop, if I want, but I let the 
body go on to its unknown destina- 
tion. 

I stop in front of a dark door. 
My hand reaches out. It has a key 
in it. The key fits into the keyhole 
and rattles and turns. The other 
hand eases the door open. I slip 
through into the room beyond and 
close the door gently behind me. 
I walk through the room, ma- 
neuvering around unseen objects 
unerringly, although my feet are 
heavy and clumsy, and I find my 
hand on the knob of another door. 
I turn it gently. It begins to open. 
It creaks. I hesitate. 



6B 

"George?" It is a low, harsh 
voice, disembodied in the darkness. 

"Yeah." 

"So you finally came home." 

There is no welcome here. The 
voice is bitter and spiteful. 

I walk into the room and ease 
myself into a chair I don't know 
is there, and I reach out wearily 
toward the voice in the darkness. 
There is a bed there, and a woman 
is on the bed, and the woman is 
Smith's lawful mate. While I am 
Smith, she Is my lawful mate. I 
touch her mind and recoil. 

Hate! Violent and vicious. Hate 
doubled because it was once some- 
thing else. Hate redoubled because 
it is impotent. 

My hands reach down to untie 
my shoes. But inside the body, I am 
searching frantically for an excuse 
to get away. And I can't think of 
any. 

"You run out of money or did 
Dolores get tired of you?" 

"Nuts!" I say. 

"You have something to eat?" 

"Yeah." 

"We had mush." 

"Yeah?" 

"That's the third time this week." 

"So what?" 

"I'd think you'd want your kids 
to have a decent meal once in a 
while." 

"I give you money," I say loudly. 
"It ain*t my fault you dirow it 
away on candy and magazines and 
movies." 

"What else I got?" she says. "Fat 
lot of money you give me." 

A distant voice says, "Mama!'* 

"You woke up the kids again,'* 
she says wearily. 

I hear the bedsprings creak. A 



JAMES GUNN 

moment later an overhead light 
comes on. I blink. She is in a thin, 
ragged nightgown. Her face is hag- 
gard and old, but the body under 
the gown is still young. She walks 
by me, and I find my hand reaching 
out toward her. She twists away 
from it. She looks at mc witli hard, 
hating eyes, and her mouth curls 
with revulsion. Slie walks through 
the door and into the darkness be- 
yond. 

The bedroom is dirty and dis- 
heveled. The light glares down from 
a naked bulb hanging on a cord. It 
swings back and forth. Shadows 
sway around the room. 

I reach out toward the other 
minds. They are young. They are 
overwisc. 

"He's home." 

"I heard him. He's drunk again." 

"Why does he have to come 
home? Why can't he stay away for- 
ever." 

"Mama says we wouldn't have 
nothing to eat." 

"I don't care. I don't care if we 
eat mush all the time. It*s better 
when he's gone." 

"Sh-h-h. Mama's coming." 

"Go back to sleep, boys. Every- 
thing's all right." 

"He's home, ain't he, Mama?" 

"Yes. Go back to sleep.'* 

"Why can't he stay away?" 

"Don't say things like that. He's 
your father.'* 

"He ain't hurt you, has he. 
Mama?" 

"No. Of course not." 

"If he hurts you tonight, I'll kill 
him. I'll kill him." 

"Me, too." 

Hate. Pouring out at me. Sur- 
rounding me. Pressing down . . . 



A MONSTER NAMED SMITH 



69 



"You mustn't say things like that. 
He's your father." 

"He's not! He's not!" 

"Be quiet now. Go back to sleep.*' 

She returns. I hear her footsteps 
echoing through the dark, the 
sticky, odorous dark, and I look 
around the room, and I wonder 
why I am here, so far from the 
clean meadows and the calm, gen- 
tle hosts of my home world. And I 
wonder how soon I can get away. 
I wonder if I must spend a night 
here, or more, sleeping in that bed 
beside the body of the woman, 
sensing her movements, listening to 
her thoughts, torn with repugnance. 
She is an enemy . . . 

I have lived with danger for a 
long time. Ever since the ship de- 
scended upon our world, danger 
has walked beside me. It didn't 
matter so much there, because we 
were many, but now I am one and 
alone, and I am afraid. 

These men are strange animals, 
and I, who have strange powers 
they never suspected until recently 
— I am afraid of them. 

I am in the body of a man 
named Smith, and I hate it. 

Smith f Smith f Where are you. 
Smith! 



THE LIGHT is out and I crawl 
into bed beside the woman. I lie 
on one side of the bed, and she lies 
on the other, and we listen to each 
other breathing. I feel her hate. 

I try to plan how I will get out 
of the city and how I will leave this 
alien body and seek the peace I 
need before I can divide. I think 
how I will find some of the animals 
that Smith heard Of, and I will use 



them as hosts until I am many 
again, and we will take over this 
world. Once there are many of us, 
it will be simple. It will be painful 
work, but simple. 

But it is useless. All I can think 
about is the woman lying there on 
the other side of this uncomfortable 
bed, and how I am surrounded by 
strange ficsh and the flesh is sur- 
rounded by hate. 

I am shocked to find myself in 
the middle of the bed. The dis- 
covery paralyzes me for a moment, 
and then I try to draw back. But 
there are odd, undefinable things 
working inside me. Uncontrolled 
sensations quiver along the nerves 
inside the body, quiver along the 
feelers that lie microscopically in- 
side the nerves. Glands are dis- 
charging their secretions into the 
body. The process seems automatic; 
I can't stop them. The body, too, 
must have automatic responses. It 
reaches toward the woman. 

"George!" she says in a low, 
vicious voice. "Get away from me." 

T put my hand on her. She 
writhes away from it, her flesh 
shrinking. I get closer. She strug- 
gles; she hits at me with her fists. 
1 pin her hands behind her with 
one of mine. I lower my head over 
hers, kissing her lips that twist like 
snakes under mine. 

^'George! Don't!" she snaps, 
when I raise my head for a mo- 
ment. "The children are listening." 

"So what?" 

The body goes on doing things 
that I can't control. I can't control 
anything now. Flesh speaks to flesh, 
and the emotions working inside me 
are wild and violent. I try to shut 
myself away from them. I try to 



70 

cower back, to disengage myself, 
but it is no use. 

"George," she says. I hear the 
voice distantly. "George! You filthy 
beast! Don't cdtiie crawling to me 
after you've been with that wom- 
an!" 

But her voice is softenings and 
her body is softening, too. As I 
release her hands, they do not claw 
at mc. They try to push mc away, 
but they arc weak and incflTectual. 

Horror is inside the body with 
me, and I cannot help what the 
body is doing. Sweat rolls ofT our 
bodies. 

"You bea.st," she says again. 
"You beast." But her voice is dif- 
ferent now. She isn't pushing me 
away any more. 

And the worst part is that be- 
neath that surface response is the 
hate, still there, as violent and un- 
appeasable as ever. 

Later I find myself lying on the 
other side of the bed again. My 
senses are dulled with horror, and 
the body is dull, too. It is drifting 
into sleep. 

"You devil," the woman says in 
a wild, torn voice. "I hate you." 

And the body sleeps, soddenly. 

But / do not sleep. I cannot 
sleep, like the body, and forget. I 
must Hc7 awake and remember. And 
one thought* violent and powerful, 
drives all the others before it. 
Escape f 

Get away, now! Get free from 
the body before tt wakes again and 
does other terrible, uncontrollable 
things. There is danger! Ignore it! 
Pull free now, before it^s too late. 

I know that I can't stand it any 
longer. I must be free again. Per- 



JAMES GUNN 

haps this time I can find an animal, 
some pet, or better, a small animal 
like a rat. It will have holes and 
secret ways which the Enemy can't 
find. Unlike us, he has been un- 
able to exterminate his peists. He 
will not be able to do it now. 

The danger is great, but the 
danger of staying is greater. I try 
to begin the slow process of extri- 
cating myself from this fleshy trap. 
But the long, slender feelers will not 
slip from the nerves and tbe ves- 
sels. They are entangled, glued fast. 
Is that it? Or am I so weak that 
I can't even control my own ex- 
tensions any longer. 

The body holds me, clinging to 
every part of me. It won't let me 
go. I cannot move. I pull with all 
my strength. I send out imperious 
commands along the tenuous feel- 
ers. Nothing. Nothing happens. 

There is only one chanr:' left. T 
hesitate before taking it, but at 
last I send out the impulses of de- 
struction and dissolution. I don't 
know what it will do to me, caught 
as I am inside this body, but I don't 
care any more. And it does nothing. 

Trapped ! 

I relax, hopelessness and dismay 
washing over me like the ancient 
sea from which we came. I am 
caught, irretrievably, finally. I have 
no control over the body at all; I 
no longer have any control over 
my own being. Somehow, inexpli- 
cably, the powerful, instintive re- 
actions of this monstrous body have 
welded me to it. We are bound to- 
gether, indissolubly, until death. 

A lifetime of terror and horror 
stretches before me. I am a con- 
sciousness imprisoned in a mass of 



A MONSTER NAMED SMITH 



71 



flesh. Speechless, cut off from the 
woiid, I will live only to suffer. 

Smith! Smith! Where are you? 

But there is no answer. Smith is 
gone. It isn't Smith who has me, 
who will not let me go; it is this 
body. A lifetirue! 

There is one chance, one chance 
for freedom. There is one place I 
can turn for help. The Enemy can 
free me, and it no longer matters 
if the freedom is death. 

I reach out once more, des- 
perately. 

Search/ Search! Find him! 

"Your plan is fantastic. I flatly 
refuse to let this city be shut down 
any longer." 

"Gardner's right, Burke. You can 
take over a city for a few hours, 
but when you start talking about 
days it's impossible. And you can't 
expect any results." 

"Okay, Ellis. The plan was fool- 
ish. I give up." 

"Wait a minute. I'm all out of 
breath. I was all prepared to argue 
with you, and now you give up. 
You must have thought of some- 
thing." 

"I just started thinking of the 
thing as a parasite. Parasites are 
usually particular about their hosts. 
They're adapted to one species or 
a few closely allied species, and 
they can't change quickly. If the 
thing escaped, I imagine it found 
its host body uncongenial." 

"Exactly, Burke. And I was go- 



ing to make another point. In the 
struggle for existence, the parasite 
has chosen a negative reaction. It 
has followed the line of least resist- 
ance, giving up freedom and inde- 
pendence for protection and a more 
constant and usually richer supply 
of food. It's a retreat from struggle. 
Basically, it can't compete with 
positive reactions." 

"Nevertheless, we must send out 
a ship immediately to wipe that 
world clean. We can't ^ve them a 
chance to adapt." 

"Just before I left the ship, I 
received new orders from Sec- 
space." 

"I suppose the thing is dead. . . ." 

I slip away, my last hope gone. 
They will not search me out. T'he 
monsters! The monsters! The thing 
isn't dead, but it would like to be. 
It must live on until the host 
dies. . . . 

Dies! I remember. With a hor- 
rible, sickened feeling, I remember. 
The rejuvenating network I have 
supplied this body has made it al- 
most immortal. 

My tormented imprisonment isn't 
just for a lifetime. It is forever. 

The sodden body sleeps, this 
monster named Smith, while my 
thoughts race madly. 

The body sh i vers, very gently. 
Deep inside itj a mute voice is 
screaming. 

• • • THE END 



Man is a rope connecting animal and Superman, a rope over a 
precipice . . . What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not 
a goal. — Nietzche 



Will the lime machine ever become a reality? Will we ever be 
able to go back in history and visit the scenes and heroes we've 
read about? Will we ever be able to foresee events of the fu- 
ture? Man has broken two barriers — space and sound — and 
now he is working on another . . . 



Breaking the TIME Barrier 



An IF Fact Article 
By Alson J. Smith 



So FAR this century has seen 
man breach space and sound, 
two of the barriers that stood be- 
tween him and a more complete 
knowledge of the universe. Tlic air- 
plane has reduced the vast dis- 
tances of land and sea. to practical 
nothingness, and the same marvel- 
ous instrument has propelled hu- 
man beings through the air at su- 
personic speeds. A hundred years 
ago only hair-shirted preachers, 
psychotic cultists, and, opium -eating 
science-fiction writers wei'C antici- 
pating a day when men would hurl 
themselves through the stratosphere 
at speeds faster than the sound of 
a cannon-shot. 

The second half of the century 
may well give man victory over the 
most enigmatic barrier of all — 
time. Inconceivable? No more so 
than travel at supersonic speeds 
would have seemed to the foot sol- 
dier in Wellington's army, or the 



inter-planetary rocket to the in- 
ventor of the steam locomotive. To- 
day not only science-fiction writers 
but sober scientists in a score of 
university research centers are 
quietly experimenting with the 
hitherto inviolate timc-barrier — and 
are breaching it every day. 

Man has always been intrigued 
by the problem of time. "What is 
time?" cried St. Augustine. "If no- 
body asks me, I know. But if I am 
asked, I cannot say." Thousands 
since then have toyed with the 
question, and a few million words 
have been written alxiut man's pre- 
occupation with the nature of 
time. It governs our lives; we 
chronicle its passing with calendars, 
clocks, sand and sun-dial, and 
dread the slow or quick approach 
of the final tick that frees us from 
its domination. Yet— what is it? We 
don't really know. Mathematically, 
it is a convenient abstraction, a hu- 



72 



BREAKING THE TIME BARRIER 



73 



manly created device to regulate 
men and events and bring some 
sort of order into human relation- 
ships. And yet, as Immanuel Kant 
once obscrvt'd, \vc do not know that 
the "order" which time describes 
is the true order of the universe. 

Maurice Maeterlinck had an in- 
teresting theory. He comments on 
the fact that the star Mira, in the 
constellation of Balaena the Whale, 
is sevcnly-two light years away from 
our earth. Suppose there is on Mira 
a civilization more advanced than 
ours, and an astronomer with a 
telescope powerful enough to dis- 
tinguish clearly what is going on 
on Earth. What the Mira astrono- 
mer would see would not be Paris, 
New York, or New Haven as they 
are now, but as they were seventy- 
two years ago — horse cars in the 
street, bustles on the ladies and 
Amos Alonzo Stagg playing left end 
for Yale. There would be no trace 
of two world wars, for they would 
not yet have happened as far as the 
astronomer on Mira was con- 
cerned ; the present, for him, is that 
which he sees. For him the buried 
life of the past is the present. 
Maeterlinck concludes : *'In this 
plurality of times, which are merely 
pure conventions, are not the events 
of the future already present some- 
where, just as the events of the 
past are still present? They cannot 
be stinted for room, since the pres- 
ent is eternal, which means that it 
is infinite in space as well as time." 

Another interesting theory is that 
held by Dr. C. D. Broad, the Eng- 
lish scientist who is at present work- 
ing at the University of Michigan. 
Professor Broad believes that there 
may be a second dimension of time. 



which normally we know nothing 
about, lying at right angles to our 
familiar dimension. If there is this 
second dimension, then events 
which are separated by a time-gap 
in one dimension may be joined 
without any gap in the other, just 
as two points on the earth's surface 
which differ in longitude may be 
identical in latitude. Our familiar 
time might be represented by a line 
going from west to east, and the 
second or unknown dimension by a 
line going from south to north. For 
instance: Mother Shipton, who 
lived in the sixteenth century, fore- 
told the invention of the automo- 
bile. Dr. Broad's theory would ex- 
plain this by saying that although 
in our familiar dimension the in- 
vention of the automobile occurred 
more than two centuries after 
Mother Shipton's prediction, yet, 
in the second dimension of time, it 
occurred just before the prediction. 
In other words, she was remember- 
ing, not predicting. 

One of the most careful theoreti- 
cians about time was the late John 
W. Dunne, a highly- respected Brit- 
ish aeronatitical engineer whose 
theories have been incorporated in 
three hooks^Expcriment With 
Time, The Serial Universe and 
The New Immortality. 

Dunne's interest in the time prob- 
lem began with a scries of odd 
premonitory dreams, in which he 
dreamed of events exactly as they 
would happen the day after he 
dreamed them. 

Dunne decided that they were 
ordinary dreams, but were dis- 
placed in time. Instead of coming 
after the event they were coming 
befo re it. They were normal 



74 



ALSON J. SMITH 



enough, but he was having them on 
the wrong nights. He finally de- 
cided that all dreams were made 
up of images of the past, present 
and future blended together in 
equal proportions, and that the uni- 
verse is really stretched out in time. 
And the conventional view in which 
the future is cut off from the pres- 
ent and past is due to a purely 
mentally-imposed barrier which ex- 
ists only in the conscious mind. In 
dreams we continually cross and re- 
cross that nonexistent equator, 
which we arbitrarily set across the 
whole stream of time when we're 
awake. 



WE KNOW that time was not an 
Absolute for the ancients; they 
were very sure that the "impene- 
trable" veil could be pierced, even 
by the most ordinary of their num- 
ber. The Pythia at Delphi was al- 
ways a woman and generally one 
of the ignorant rural population. 
Yet, after fasting and inhaling the 
sacred vapor_s in the temple, she 
was believed to be capable of de- 
livering messages from the gods and 
predicting future events. Widi the 
coming of modem science in the 
15th and 16th centuries, however, 
time was arbitrarily ruled an Abso- 
lute. From then on a philosopher 
like Kant, a mystic like Sweden- 
borg, a psychologist like McDougall, 
or even a heretical scientist like 
Sir William Grookes, sounded an 
occasional note of dissent, but, gen- 
erally speaking, time-tethered 
science was unchallenged in its best- 
of - all - possible, three - dimensional 
worlds. In this kind of a climate, 
prophecy was limited to the logical 



inference of the weather forecaster 
and the investment advisor; only 
the racing fan with his "hunch" 
could claim a relationship with the 
Pythia and Pilate's wife. 

Dr. Albert Einstein dropped a 
bombshell into this smug three-di- 
mensional world when he postu- 
lated his space-time continuum, 
with time as a fourth dimension. 
Space and time, he held, were but 
opposite sides of a coin. 

Everybody had a lot of fun with 
long-haired old Dr. Einstein and his 
Theory of Relativity. Limericks like 
this one were greatly appreciated: 

There was a young girl named 

Miss Bright, 
Who could travel much faster 

than light. 
She departed one day 
In an Einsteinian way. 
And came back on the previous 

night. 

But the scientists did not laugh. 
They accepted the space-time con- 
tinuum. And they saw its implica- 
tion — that an amazing new frontier 
for scientific experiment had been 
opened. As men had pioneered in 
space, so now, theoretically, they 
might pioneer in time. 

The branch of science which is 
concerning itself with the breaching 
of the time barrier is that sub-divi- 
sion of psychology- known as para- 
psychology — that is, a psychology 
that deals with phenomena that are 
beyond normality. At Duke Uni- 
versity Dr. J. C. Rhine and his col- 
leagues in the Laboratory of Para- 
psychology are experimenting daily 
with the power of the mind to re- 
member the past and predict the 
future. Similar experimentation is 



BREAKING THE TIME BARRIER 



75 



carried on at the City College of 
New York and at the universities 
of Utrecht, Bonn, Groningen, and 
London. 

The firht experiments in precog- 
nition (the ability of the mind to 
break the time-barrier and predict 
or "see" future events) and retro- 
cognition (the ability to "see*' 
events of the distant past) were car- 
ried out at Duke University with a 
special set of cards called "ESP" 
( Extra-Sensory Perception ) cards. 
The subject of the experiment tried 
to predict the order of the deck as 
it would he after it was shuffled. 
The results obtained showed mathe- 
matical odds of 400,000 to 1 against 
chance being responsible for the 
correct predictions made by the 
subjects. Other tests with cards, 
marbles, dice and matching pic- 
tures all bore out the original re- 
sults. The idea that there is a power 
of the mind which can /jrcvision, 
which is not limited by time, was 
healthily substantiated. These sim- 
ple experiments are gradually be- 
coming more complex, but the re- 
sults continue to indicate that the 
actual breaching of the time barrier 



by some function of the human 
mind is not at all impossible. 

Based as they are on the science 
of mathematics, the tests make dull 
reading. But the conclusion is in- 
escapable and startling — time is 
not an Absolute ; it is a barrier that 
can be breached, and science has 
already started down the long road 
toward that end. 

What does it mean? Will H. G. 
Well's time-machine become a real- 
ity? Will the vacationer of the 21st 
century have his choice of two 
weeks in modern Paris or two weeks 
in the Paris of Marie Antoinette? 
Will the student of history not only 
read about the Battle of Hastings 
but, if he is so inclined, buy a 
ticket to it and go back in time 
to see it? Will man know the future 
— so that there will be no hidden 
knowledge, no war, no disaster, no 
surprise? 

The men who are pioneering on 
this eerie time-frontier are dedi- 
cated, able scientists. And in draw- 
ing on their experiments for ma- 
terial, the science-fiction writer is 
as near to fact as Tennyson was 
with his "airy navies" or Jules 
Verne with his submarine. 



The day is not too far off when we'll be in radio contact with Jupiter 
and Saturn, when weather will be controlled by radio, and when 
each person will have a portable sending and receiving set that will 
enable him to communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world. 

— David Sarnoff 



When Thomas Edison was once asked how many separate investiga- 
tions he had under way in West Orange, he answered, "I have 
enough ideas to keep the laboratories busy for years and 'break' the 
Bank of England." 



Mjly is Yljm's love life. She is her sisters, her 
mothers, herselves and her ancestors. But poor 
old Yljm can never be a mother or a sister — just 
himself! 




By RUSS WINTERBOTHAM 

Illustrated by Kelly Freas 



^yr SEEMS xinnecessary to say 
/ that my story began a long time 
ago, but I do not intend to be 
subtle. I am not clever and my ly- 
ing is unpolished, almost amateur- 
ish. So I certainly could not be 
subtle, wliich requires both clever- 



76 



ness and an ability to tell the truth 
and a lie in the same breath. 

Let us turn back the clock a few 
ages. I was lying in the sun think- 
ing of love. I understand that you 
human beings have an aversion to 
biological discussion, so I will not 



LONESOME HEARTS 



77 



go into detail. But I must remind 
you that my love-life is quite dif- 
ferent from yours, for I am from 
another planet. At the time under 
discussion, I was most deeply in 
love. 

My heart's desire had no diape, 
the lovely creature. She had no in- 
telligence, the divine soul. But she 
was the greatest bit of protoplasm 
in any galaxy you could name. By 
our standards, I probably might be 
called handsome. I was young and 
healthy. I had all of my genes and 
chromosomes. My color was the 
dirty green that is associated with 
beauty. 

The sun warmed my body and 
the tidal undulation of my planet's 
surface rocked me gently. And 
then she came into my life. She 
floated gently in the breeze, her 
dainty figure held aloft by a mere 
hint of levitation. Sparks of static 
electricity shot from her tender cilia 
so brightly that I was forced to ex- 
ude a layer of protective fibre to 
protect my visory buds. She sucked 
a deep breath of cyanic gas into her 
pulmonary pouch and spoke to me 
sweetly with a voice like distant 
thunder. 

"My dear Yljm, the world is 
coming to an end." 

I could not believe her, for she 
had no intelligence. She only loved 
to talk. "Perhaps," I said, "but not 
today." 

"Very soon, then," said she. Her 
name was Mjly. 

I watched her with patronizing 
amusement. The static electricity 
showed that she was nervous and 
upset, but people often get nerv- 
ous and upset over trivial matters. 
"Now how," I reasoned, "could our 



world come to an end? The other 
planet has gone on for thousands 
of years without colliding with us. 
We circle it, in fact." 

"No," Mjly said, "that is not our 
doom. Actually our world will not 
cease to exist. Life will end here, 
that is all." 

"Ah," I said. "Our atmosphere 
is escaping into space." I sucked air, 
viciously. True, the air was thin. 
True, the atmosphere was escaping. 
But there would be breathable 
amounts for many thousands of 
centuries yet to come. 

"Not the air. The food is all 
gone. Things we eat have ceased to 
exist." 

I levitated myself and looked out 
over the throbbing land. A few 
years ago, this land had been cov- 
ered with vegetation. I had come 
to take vegetation so much for 
granted that I'd ceased to notice it. 
Now it was gone. There were no 
round fruits growing from tender 
grasses, no tubers dangling from 
the fungus trees, no legume vines 
sprawling over the rocks. Every- 
where lay desert, barren dunes 
shaking their crests with tidal mo- 
tion. 

I lowered myself to the ground 
and dug my big fibrousities into 
the sod. No green leaves grew 
there beneath the surface. The soil 
was dead. "This will seriously inter- 
fere with our future, Mjly," I said. 

"We might eat each other," she 
replied, "but then there would be 
no one left." 

"No one? There are many 
others here." 

"The others are dying," said 
Mjly, blinking her otic nerves 
eerily. "We soon will be the only 



78 



RUSS WINTERBOTHAM 



ones left." 

It was indeed a senseless thing to 
do, to die just because there was no 
means of going on living- But I 
must admit tliat I was tempted for 
a moment. But I hung onto my- 
self, for there was Mjly, and as long 
as ^e lived, there was a reason for 
me to live too. 

"It's not a cheerful prospect," I 
said, "but I suppose death by star- 
vation is the best way out. We will 
face death as we have lived, cheer- 
fully and fortuitously." 

"And why should we die, when 
there is another world so close?" 
she asked. 

"Are you suggesting interplane- 
tary flight, my dear?" I was amused 
again, even though there was little 
enough left to be amused at. 

She crintled her sense of smell 
in reply, and I realized I was not 
being amused at the right time. 
Anchoring herself by magnetic 
processes, she began to weave the 
atmosphere delicately with her 
taste-bud tendrils. Quickly she hol- 
lowed the air molecules into a re- 
flective mirror, and brought it to 
focus on our neighboring world. I 
levitated myself into a position so 
that I could look into the mirror. 

The near planet was quite satis- 
factory. It was the one you know as 
the earth. It was young. It was 
green. Huge fern-like plants grew 
abundantly on its surface. It was 
full of food. And near. 

"The trip could be made by levi- 
tation," Mjly said. 

I hung back. "Animals might 
live there. We'd be devoured." 

"I am not afraid," she said. 

"We might not get hungry for a 
time. Let us linger here awhile. 



Later when we get desperate, there 
will be time enough for interplane- 
tary flight." I hated the thought 
of stuffing myself full of air enough 
to last for the long trip. 

Mjly lowered her visory buds. "I 
am going to become a m.other/' 
she said. 

"Go then, and become a mother. 
rU stay here till I get hungry and 
then join you." 

Mjly unflexed her sense of touch 
and I felt sorry for her. "If I could 
be sure," I said, "that no wild ani- 
mals live on the earth, I'd go soon- 
er." 

She snapped her sense of bal- 
ance in happiness. "I will go first," 
said she. "If everything is pleasant 
and safe, I will return and let you 
know." 

I nodded my otic nerves and ofT 
she went. 

As you human beings are doubt- 
less aware, space levitation is quite 
complicated . but not beyond ac- 
complishment. Once you are able 
to reach the speed of escape the 
rest is easy. But Mjly was young 
and strong and soon she had disap- 
peared from sight traveling at a 
tremendous velocity. I followed her 
as long as I could with the tele- 
scope and then I lowered myself to 
the tidal crest of a nearby sand 
dune and lost myself in metaphysi- 
cal thoughts. 

Almost half a year later I real- 
ized that Mjly had been gone long- 
er than I expected. Either she had 
been eaten by wild animals on the 
earth, or she had forgotten me. 

I was beginning to get lonesome 
and in a few more months I would 
get hungry. At the thought of en- 
during two such excruciating pains 



LONESOME HEARTS 



79 



at a single time, I decided to risk 
my life. I would travel through 
epace to the earth and try to find 
my beloved. 

As you may have guessed, the 
planet on which we had been living 
is the one you now know as the 
Moon, and the distance to the earth 
is comparatively small. The sand- 
dunes now have hardened and the 
tidal sway of its surface can. be felt 
only slightly. The moon no longer 
turns on its axis and it has no sweet- 
ly scented cyanide In its atmos- 
phere. It has no atmosphere of any 
sort. But it stands now as it did 
when I left it, glorious in death. 
Since I departed, no living thing 
has trod its soil. 

My scientific sense instinctively 
came to the rescue as I approached 
the earth. I felt a strong gravity 
wrenching at my vitals and so in- 
stead of trying reverse levitation, I 
spread my processes so that the at- 
mosphere caught in the folds of my 
skin and I came floating gently 
down to the ground without harm. 

The earth was much as it had 
appeared through the molecule 
telescope. It was covered with green 
vegetation, good, rich, nourishing 
stuff. And there was enough to feed 
Mjly and me for a million years. 

There were no animals of any 
sort. Again I went to my scientific 
sense for the answer. I realized that 
while vegetable life was far ad- 
vanced, animal life had yet to ap- 
pear. Mjly was the first of this type 
of life ever to set foot on terres- 
trial soil. 

But where was she ? On the 
moon, I could often locate her a 
thousand miles away by a simple 
radio call. Although the earth was 



much larger than the moon, I did 
not doubt that she was within a 
thousand miles. So I generated 
power and issued a call. 

I waited for the response. It 
came feebly to my antenna. 

Using ray sense of direction, I 
pushed through the vegetation in 
search of her. I did not levitate, 
because the feebleness of her call 
indicated she might be hurt and on 
the ground. Besides, levitation is 
much more difficult on the earth 
than on the moon. 

The reply came stronger to my 
next call and I sensed through 
seven of my senses that she was 
near. She was on the ground, prob- 
ably injured, which explained why 
she had not returned as she had 
promised. 

I came to a patch of wilderness, 
a great marshy plain. In the middle 
of this swamp was a crater, like 
those caused by meteors, a deep, 
ugly scar in the mud. I shuddered 
at the thought that my darling Mjly 
might have landed there. Her 
weaker scientific sense might not 
have given her the cue to use her 
skin as a parachute and she might 
have made the fatal mistake of try- 
ing to reverse -levitate. 

"Mjly!" I called, speaking aloud 
now. "Mjly! Where are you?" 

**Yljm! I am here!" 

"Yes, the voice came from the 
crater. Gliding to its rim, I looked 
down. A pool of water lay on the 
bottom. A greenish scum covered 
the surface. The scum moved with 
a million tiny wriggles. 

"Yes, Yljm," came Mjly's voice. 
*'It is I. But I am no longer one 
being." And her voice sounded like 

(Continued on page 94) 



FAIR and 
WARMER 



By E. G. von Wald 



Illustrated hy Poul Orbon 



Tensor's melancholia threatened to disturb the entire 
citizenry, and that was most uncivil! So — if these pe- 
culiar aliens caused him this distress, by provoking 
his intellectual curiosity, the remedy was for him to 
investigate them to his complete satisfaction. . . Thus, 
in this manner, did Tensor get well — and did he 
learn a bit too . . . 





TENSOR gazed helplessly at the 
fine mist sifting down from a 
hazy, violet sky. "I told you I was 
having these spells." 

"But Great Oxy," the adminis- 
trator sputtered, "can't you control 
yourself?" 

"I can't help It, Ruut," Tensor 
replied. "I just feel sort of funny 
and^and — " 

Ruut's hyperimage was chewing 
on its illusory lip. "Well, you've got 
lo stop it. Do you understand? 
There'll be a lot of lichens and 
things growing all over the Prime's 
beautiful landscapes if this keeps 
up." 

The administrator's concern 
amused Tensor and, as his mood 
lightened, the drizzle abated and 
the sky became clear again. 

"I'm sorry," he apologized sin- 
cerely. "But I just seem to be hav- 



81 



ing trouble lately. Ever since the 

aliens came." 

"Oh, come now, son," Ruut 
chortled with assumed heartiness. 
* 'That's elementary 5om,atics. Just 
get a grip on yourself." 

"Yes sir." 

"Perhaps you've been working, 
or exerting yourself in some other 
foolish way. Maybe you're tired and 
should take something." 

The long, scrawny citizen gazed 
disconsolately at the beautitful vio- 
let sky. his face relaxed and soleful. 
He sighed and murmured, "Frank- 
ly, Ruut, I just don't seem to give 
a damn anymore." 

On the other side of the planet, 
Ruut gulped convulsively. His eyes 
bulged out with thoroughly un- 
civilized amazement. 

"Get out of consciousness im- 
mediately," he ordered hoarsely. 



82 

"Take a nego shot, if necessary. 
Take one anyway. We can't take 
chances," The administrator's hy- 
perimage, with calculated angry 
expression, glared sternly into Ten- 
sor's mind. "Did you understand 
me?" 

"Yes sir," Tensor murmured. A 
vag^ue unpleasantness began stir- 
ring in his stcHTiach as he contem- 
plated Ruut's thought. The ad- 
ministrator was absolutely right. 
Civilization simply could not toler- 
ate an unhappy, uncooperative citi- 
zen. The general satisfaction of all 
was so clearly the responsibility of 
each individual, and one careless 
man could ruin it for everybody. 
Very much as he had been doing. 

Obediently he nodded. Conceal- 
ing his embarrassment at the arti- 
ficiality of the act, he permitted the 
hyperimage to watch while he ad- 
ministered the chemical. 

"Good." Ruut became calm at 
once, now that he was certain he 
could command the situation. "I'll 
have the physician examine you be- 
fore that wears ofT." He hesitated 
and said even more mildly, "I hope 
this is just a passing thing, Tensor. 
You know rU do everything I can 
for you, even teleportin^ to your 
focus. But you're a weather sensi- 
tive, and that's a pretty common 
classification. And you know the 
Council." 

Tensor indicated lazy assent. As 
the drug took hold, he slipped 
soothingly into unconsciousness, 
and the hyperimage fhckered and 
vanished with his powers. His last 
emotion was one of a vague relief 
that he would not have to look at 
the low caste face of an adminis- 
trator for a while. 



E. G. VON WALD 

HE FLOATED in his focus, idly 
and uninterestedly contemplat- 
ing the deep violet far above. A 
few minutes before, he had been 
stirred to an elusive and incompre- 
hensible wistfulness which had 
been, in some way, connected with 
the aliens. While waiting for the 
physician, he pondered the brief 
glimpse he had got of them before 
the Council clamped down its 
screen and privacy orders. Now, un- 
der the emotionless pseudocon- 
sciousncss of the nego, it seemed 
strange that he could have been in- 
terested in those futile and primi- 
tive beings. Practically nothing was 
known about them, because they 
could not communicate. 

Tensor studied the question brief- 
ly. There was no answer available 
in the paucity of information, so he 
dismissed it without further interest. 
Insufficient data. Therefore, insolu- 
ble problem. Therefore, forget 
about it. 

He continued to stare at the sky, 
unconsciously and vacantly wait- 
ing. 

He felt the itch. It was a slight 
stimulation of his medulary region, 
indicating somebody's desire to 
communicate with him. That, how- 
ever, was impossible at the moment. 
The only faculties of significance 
remaining in his neutral somatic 
state were those which were abso- 
lutely necessary for civilized life — 
levitation to avoid being disturbed 
by gravity, the focus for personal 
privacy, the construction of food. 
Communication was not one of 
those, so the itch would ju^t have 
to remain. Tensor contemplated an 
eternity with the medulary itch 
without the slightest concern. 



FAIR AND WARMER 



83 



Abruptly the itch stopped and 
Curl was there, looking cxliausted, 
as was the polite fashion, since tele- 
porting oneself was commonly re- 
garded as tiring. 

"You've taken nego," the physi- 
cian murmured aloud, half accus- 
ingly. 

"Yes sir," Tensor replied, using 
similar sound patterns. *'Ruut or- 
dered me to." 

"What in Oxy for?" 

"He did not like my attitude." 

The physician considered the in- 
formation, and while he did so, 
Ruut popped into existence beside 
him, a most uncivilized look of 
worry on his face. 

"How is he. Curl? What have 
you found out?" 

"No need for excitement, my 
dear administrator," the physician 
replied evenly, politely avoiding 
comment on Ruut's crude, low 
caste self control. "I just got here. 
Thanks to your order to the young 
nian to fill himself up with nego, he 
was unable to let me project a 
hyperimage." 

"But the situation was dangerous. 
Did you examine him? Did he tell 
you what he said to me?" 

Curl glanced at him, and then 
quickly sent probing thoughts at 
Tensor's mind and body. After a 
moment, he gave It up, shaking his 
head. "The nego won't let him 
communicate at all. I'll have to 
order him to administer an anit- 
dote to himself." 

"No!" Ruut almost shouted. "It's 
dangerous." He rapidly gave an 
oral and somewhat horrified ac- 
count of his earlier communication 
with Tensor. 

"All right," the physician grudg- 



ingly admitted. "I'll try to do it 
superficially. But it's difficult. It's 
av^ully hard to know what's going 
on in his body from just looking 
at it and listening to him talk." 

He turned to Tensor. "How long 
have you been having these — er, 
spurious moods?" 

"About six months." 

"Are you having any other trou- 
bles?" 

"No sir. It's just the simple 
things, like the weather, that seem 
to be affected." 

"I see. Melancholia." Curl 
frowned thoughtfully. "These 
moods come unwillingly, is that it? 
And they don't go away entirely 
when you shift your endocrine 
balance?" 

"I'm not so sure about that en- 
docrine shift, sir," Tensor stated 
emotionlessly. 

"You mean — " Curl stopped in- 
credulously. He shook his head as 
he comprehended. "Great Iso 
Oxys!" 

"What is it?" Ruut asked in a 
hushed voice. 

"This is deeper than I thought, 
Ruut. You did very well to put him 
under nego. The man can't control 
his endocrine system properly." 

"Well do something,*' Ruut de- 
manded. "Don't just float there." 

"All I can do," Curl said, raising 
his voice exactly one decibel to show 
his irritation, "is give advice. Ob- 
viously, in his condition, the man 
can't follow it." 

Ruut gazed unhappily at his 
friend. He was in authority over 
Tensor, and therefore far inferior 
in native gifts. Now it seemed that 
Tensror was regressing in some ob- 
scure way to his own level, a tragic 



84 



E. G. VON WALD 



and uncivilized iiituation. 

"This has happened before," 
Curl admitted. "But I can't quite 
remember when." He sighed re- 
signedly. "I guess 'I'll have to tele- 
port again. Somebody probably re- 
members." 

He disappeared for a few minutes 
and returned again, face beaming 
despite the fatigue. 

"Oh yes," he said cheerfully. 
"Now I know." 

Tensor stared at him with un- 
interested eyes. 

"The man is dying," Curl ex- 
plained with satisfaction. 

"Dying?" Ruut murmured in- 
credulously. "But that's impossible 
unless the Council orders him to 
destroy himself. Why— why that 
would make him just like an ani- 
mal." 

"That's what it is," Curl in- 
sisted. 

Ordinarily, Tensor would have 
been somewhat interested to know 
about this strange process that was 
taking place within his body, but 
the nego kept his mind dull and 
unconcerned. He did not even 
question for reasons. 

Ruut, however, did, and the phy- 
sician happily explained. "You just 
have never been concerned with 
these rare symptoms, my dear ad- 
ministrator. You see, actually we 
are animals in a sense. Wc don't 
die like them, but if we are not in 
a focus we could be killed through 
some accidental injury. The princi- 
pal difference between us and the 
small animals that occasionally 
cause Prime trouble with his land- 
scaping is control. They have no 
control over their endocrine sys- 
tems. We have." 



*'Of course," Ruut said. "I know 
that." 

"Ah, but perhaps you don't know 
that our race at one time had no 
more control over our endocrine 
systems than those tittle animals. 

"There are a lot of ways to ac- 
count for the change, and it makes 
very fascinating discussion because 
it's absolutely unimportant. How- 
ever, under such conditions, a hu- 
man being would automatically 
reach a certain stable level of de- 
velopment. But then, after an in- 
credibly short time, the essential 
chaos within its body due to lack 
of endocrine control causes it to 
deteriorate. Eventually it is no 
longer capable of sustaining life 
and it dies." 

The physician moved his hands 
in an awkward but eloquent ges- 
ture. "And that's all there is to it." 

"Oh," Ruut murmured in an 
awed tone, not even comprehend- 
ing the extent of the disease but 
trying to accept the staggering idea 
of natural death. "Can*t you do 
anything for him?" 

Curl turned his attention casually 
back to the sick man again. "Possi- 
bly. Dying, of course, is not a dis- 
ease in itself, but merely a symptom 
of one." He shook his head. "I cer- 
tainly wish I could examine him 
directly without getting involved in 
a major social crisis." 

"Oh, Prime would be furious," 
Ruut warned. 

"No doubt. Well — he said that 
this started six months ago. Now 
what could have happened six 
months ago?" 

"The aliens," Ruut said flatly. 
"That's what caused it." 

"Oh, come now, Ruut,"' Curl 



FAIR AND WARMER 



85 



said amusedly. "Don't be supersti- 
tious. What connection could these 
— these aliens possibly have?" 

"Well, that's when the Council 
clamped down on them. Something 
funny about the way they did that, 
too." 

"Not at all funny," Curl told 
him in a superior tone of voice. "It 
is simply that the aHens appeared 
to be of a higher type of animal 
class without communication. Sure- 
ly you wouldn't want to have any- 
thing to do with such contradictory 



"Of course not. But Tensor got 
sick right after he visited them." 

"He went to visit them?" Curl 
was pensive a moment, and his 
eyes lighted up. "In that case, Ruut. 
there may be some connection after 
all." 

Ruut nodded without speaking. 

"Tensor," Curl said thoughtfully, 
"did you actually go to inspect the 
savages?" 

"Yes ar." 

"When?" 

"Just before the Council stopped 
it." 

"Uh huh. Did you have a reac- 
tion?" 

Tensor considered. He recalled 
every detail of the fleeting impres- 
.<iions that had been his during the 
few brief moments of his presence 
near the peculiar organisms. The 
impresMOns were confused and 
mingled with sensations of teleport 
fatigue, but there was a definite 
and strange sentiment involved 
somewhere. 

"Ye;:, sir," he said woodenly. 
"There seems to have been a re- 
action." 

"Ha!" The physician glanced 



significantly at Ruut. "What kind 
of a reaction. Tensor? And how 
strong was it?" 

"I do not recognize it, sir. But 
it was stronger than the ordinary 
ones." 

Curl noatod over close to him, 
peering intently up into the uncon- 
scious man's eyes. "Tell me the 
characteristics." 

Tensor thought a moment and 
replied, "Chaotic In one sense. Spe- 
cific in another." 

"Speculative?" Curl's eyes were 
eager with interest. 

"Yes sir. I believe that would de- 
fine it best. It was a sort of wild 
and ungovernable desire to specu- 
late on the origin of the aliens. A 
very singular experience," he 
added. 

"I knew it!" Curl almost shouted. 
Then he quickly glanced about and 
composed himself stiffly. That was 
an embarrassing thing to do. In 
front of an administrator, too. 

"Very well," he said. "That con- 
firms my diagnosis. I shall report it 
to the Council and let them decide 
what to do." 

"What is it?" Ruut asked. 

"A very strange disease. Rare, 
too. I haven't had a case of it for 
centuries." He paused and shook 
his head. "Too bad. I don't recall 
a single recovery from it once it 
got a good start." 

"It is — contagious?" Ruut asked 
timidly. 

"Oh, not for you," Curl smiled. 
"It's called intellectual curiosity, 
and it requires somewhat more 
brain power than you have." 

"Thank Oxy for that," Ruut 
breathed fervently. His eyes went 
back to the recumbent form of the 



86 



E. G. VON WALD 



diseased citizen. 

"Yes. The Council will dearly 
love this," Curl said with satisfac- 
tion. "Most unusual. He'll have to 
be destroyed, of course." 

"But can't you do anything for 
it?" 

"Not likely. You see, it's the only 
appetite of which we are capable 
that can't be controlled by shifting 
endocrine balance. Ordinarily, our 
civilized manner of living prevents 
it from being aroused— that's the 
advantage of bein? civilized. Be- 
cause, once the appetite shows up, 
it simply must be satisfied, or it's 
apt to do ail sorts of poisonous 
things to you, as you can see. The 
trouble is, satisfying curiosity gen- 
erally involves at least some work, 
and what civilized man is going to 
get himself involved with anything 
like that?" 

"Insidious," Ruut whispered. 

Curl turned away, but then hesi- 
tated and glanced back. "Still, since 
it concerns the aliens — " He 
frowned pensively. "There is a 
scheme we've never tried before 
that would probably cure him. I 
remember somebody mentioned it 
about eight hundred years ago, and 
we decided to try it out on the next 
case. Never did, though. Nobody 
was interested. It's sort of uncivi- 
lized, but I'll bring it up and see 
what the Council thinks." 

He nodded shortly, and evacu- 
ated to his own focus. 

"Well, my boy," Ruut said to 
Tensor. "I'm going to miss you." 

"There is no need to concern 
yourself over me, sir," Tensor re- 
plied unemotionally. "It does not 
bother me in the slightest." 

Ruut knew that to be the truth, 



but it made him feel sad to think 
of such a highly civilized man as 
Tensor falling to a level that was 
even below an administrator. 
Abruptly, he caught himself and 
readjusted the endocrine balance in 
his own body to compensate for the 
character of his thought, and the 
moody spell passed. 

He left, and Tensor continued to 
stare unconsciously at the brilliant, 
deep violet of the sky, noting with- 
out appreciation the jewel-like 
points of light that were the stars. 

THE NEGO had to be recom- 
posed twice in his body before 
Curl returned, his long, unkempt, 
black beard floating gently around 
his ears. 

"Tensor," he said gravely, "the 
Council has acted. It has been de- 
cided not to order you to destroy 
yourself immediately, because I 
managed to convince them that 
it would be interesting to try that 
old scheme I told you about. I 
hope you don't mind." 

Naturally there was no reply 
from Tensor. In his emotionless 
state, he did not care oneway or 
the other. He waited. 

"At any rate," the physician con- 
tinued, "what they did was order 
you to satisfy this curiosity that is 
causing all your trouble. 

"The reason, of course, isn't that 
the Council is interested in your 
cure. But they do desire some co- 
herent information about the aliens. 
And since it is unlikely that anyone 
will ever volunteer to take the trou- 
ble to investigate them on their 
own initiative, they felt your illness 
a satisfactory excuse for requiring 



FAIR AND WARMER 



87 



you to make the investigation." 

"Yes sir." 

Curl sighed. It was monotonous, 
this trying to carry on a conversa- 
tion with an unconscious man. 
However, it was his duty as a phy- 
sician, and he had promised the 
Council. One thing he was sure of, 
though, and tliat was never again 
to get involved in teleporting him- 
self ahout the planet like this on 
any account. He would send an as- 
sistant. Provided he could find one. 

"The Council would like a report 
when you get back. Do you think 
you can control yourself if you 
know that you are going to in- 
vestigate the aliens whether you Hke 
it or not?" 

"I guess so, sir," Tensor replied 
without interest. 

"Splendid. I'll return to my own 
focus and give you the privacy for 
administering the antidote." 

Tensor waited. When the physi- 
cian was gone, he constructed the 
chemical in the vein of his left 
wrist, and in less than a minute he 
felt the surging pleasure of his re- 
awakened faculties. He glanced 
doubtfully at the sky, but it re- 
mained clear. 

Curl's hypcrimagc began forming 
in his mind. "Everything all right 
now?" the physician inquired 
genially. 

"Perfect," repUcd Tensor con- 
tentedly. "This won't be so bad, 
even if it is useful work. Maybe I'm 
just a little peculiar." 

"Ha, ha," Curl replied noncom- 
mittally. 

"Oh, one thing further. What 
about the privacy screen set up 
around the aliens?" 

"That was dropped months ago," 



Curl laughed. "Can you imagine 
the Council sustaining anything like 
that for long?" 

"It doesn't require any effort." 
"Yes, but it looks like it ought 
to. and you know how that affects a 
civilized man. You can go any time 
you like." 

Tensor nodded and withdrew. 



ABRUPTLY, he was hovering 
over the delightful grecn-and- 
orange-streakcd sands oi" the cen- 
tral landscape. This was one of 
Prime's favorites, and the network 
of drainage channels was the most 
effective on the planet. Tensor ap- 
proved. It really was beautiful. 

He gazed around, pleasurably 
appreciating the esthetic beauty of 
the colorful, arid scene. 

Then he saw the aliens. Tiiat was 
astonishing, he thought. The aliens 
were known to have grouped on the 
other side of the planet, and he had 
intended to do some sightseeing on 
the way around. Now two of them 
were here. Most unpredictable. 
They were standing near the ho- 
rizon, apparently examining one of 
the channels. 

Tensor moved toward them .slow- 
ly, sending futile probes for their 
minds and finding, as before, noth- 
ing but chaotic splashes. It was 
really unfortunate that they could 
not communicate. 

He moved higher as he ap- 
proached, for the better view it af- 
forded. The aliens were animal, all 
right. A species similar to human 
beings but grotesquely primitive. 
He observed that the creatures had 
noticed him and were running mad- 
ly across the surface toward a 



88 



E. G. VON WALD 



small, shiny structure. 

The structure interested him. It 
looked very much as if it had been, 
fabricated. He wondered how the 
savages could construct without be- 
ing able to control, and watched 
them as they actually entered the 
thing. 

And then, incredibly, it rose from 
the ferrous sands and dashed off 
toward the cast, a faint, disgusting- 
ly moist vapor trailing out behind 
it. 

Quickly Tensor moved up par- 
allel to it, while he speculated on 
what it meant. Apparently the sav- 
ages were in full control of it. For 
a moment he thought it might be 
an alien focus, but dismissed the 
idea. If it were a focus, there would 
be no purpose in moving it spati- 
ally. 

Feeling more curious, he pro- 
jected himself inside and was im- 
mediately delighted, despite its 
obvious mechanical character. It 
was metallic and smooth and there 
were numerous incomprehensible 
devices piled up again the walls of 
the tiny, circular room. Seated at a 
panel, their backs toward him, the 
two creatures were busily manipu- 
lating httle spots of brilliant color, 
and one was creating a wierd but 
soft cacaphony with its mouth. 

Tensor was amused as well as 
interested. He listened, and man- 
aged to decipher a pattern to the 
speech, even though only confused 
scatterings of intelligence came 
from the chaotic minds. He again 
observed the astonishing similarity 
of appearance between the aliens 
and human beings. 

From a small orifice in the panel, 
a reply issued; cold and rasping in 



tonal quality. 

"Control to Scout Three. Roger 
on the presumed alien. Lieutenant. 
I knew that civilian with you would 
get you into trouble." 

"Well, it wasn't exactly the fault 
of—" 

"Enough. Bear away from the 
base until certain you are not being 
followed." 

While one of them played with 
the moving color spots on the panel, 
the other twisted a knob, and all 
segments of the outside became 
successively visible in a viewer. 

"Scout Three to Control. Noth- 
ing in sight." 

"Very well. The orders are to stay 
there until dark, after which you 
may return." 

"But that's two hundred hours 
away," the other savage hissed. "We 
don't have enough oxygen." 

"You'll just have to work it out 
somehow," the panel replied coldly. 
'*We can't endanget the whole mili- 
tary base for one useless civilian 
biologist," 

This was a fascinating exchange 
to Tensor, as he puzzled out the 
curious relationships and their pur- 
poses. He floated near the ceiling, 
listening, face set in civiliaed im- 
passivity. 

One of the creatures grumbled, 
leaned back and swung around in 
its chair. It jerked erect when it 
saw the man at the ceiling. 

Tensor smiled at the poor, dumb 
creature and was rewarded by a 
disgustingly loud noise from its 
mouth and a mad rush back to the 
panel. The other had seen him, too, 
and was staring wide-eyed at him. 
Tensor moved closer to observe, 
but the one who had seen him first 



FAIR AND WARMER 



89 



continued shouting shrill, ear-split- 
ting noises at its companion, who 
seemed to be trying unsuccessfully 
to obey. Petulantly, Tensor disin- 
tegrated the noisy one and also 
some ugly cables that led from the 
panel to the wall. That improved 
the esthetic situation immeasurably, 
he felt. 

There was a quick sucking of 
breath from the remaining savage 
as it looked wildly about for a 
moment, as if searching for its van- 
ished companion, and then stared 
at the place where the cables had 
been. 

"Well — " It made a hopeless ges- 
ture with its shoulders and slumped 
back into its chair. "That does it. 
No pilot. No radio. Damn. Even the 
Leader would have trouble with 
this situation." It looked uneasily 
at Tensor, and remained perfectly, 
cautiously still. 

"What do you call yourselves?" 
Tensor asked without difficulty, 
using sound patterns similar to what 
they had employed. 

"You speak English!" the crea- 
ture blurted out in amazement, and 
Tensor felt rather Irritated by its 
crude facial expression. He made a 
small adjustment, however, bring- 
ing his own somatic state into a 
closer harmony with that of the 
creature, and the desired level of 
contented appreciation rose. 

"Are — are you a native?" it 
asked hesitantly. 

"Yes," Tensor replied. 

It gazed at him with half closed, 
calculating eyes, starting at the 
head, running slowly to his feet and 
back again. 

"You look human." it muttered. 

"Naturally," Tensor replied 



cheerfully. The appreciation was 
growing subtly now, and he found 
that the creature's mouth interested 
him. It was a strikingly lovely shade 
of red — always Tensor's favorite 
color. And although there was a 
heavy and awkward sheath of arti- 
ficial fabric about the alien, he ob- 
served with a rising fascination that 
the bulging of the thoracic sheath- 
ing indicated that it was female. 

Tensor became uncomfortably 
aware that he had better be careful 
of his induced somatic sympathy. 

After a moment of speculative si- 
lence, he said, "You haven't told 
me what you savages consider your- 
selves." 

"Don't call me a savage, you 
naked beast," she snapped back. 

"I beg your pardon" he mur- 
mured politely. "Merely a semantic 
difficulty, I'm sure. I assume that 
you consider yourselves human be- 
ings, then. Where do you come 
from?" 

"Earth — the third planet." 

"I see. And you used mechanical 
devices such as this Uttle metal egg 
to get here. Most curious." Tensor 
contemplated the thought with 
great interest, for obviously they 
used mechanical skill to compen- 
sate for lack of direct control. An 
exceedingly poor substitute, of 
course; but it explained everything 
he wanted to know. 

"Are there many of you natives?" 
she asked him cautiously. 

"Not like there used to be," Ten- 
sor admitted. "But still quite a few 
— though not so many we get on 
each other's nerves." 

"How many in round numbers?" 

That was a silly question, Tensor 
thought. Nevertheless he told her. 



90 



E. G. VON WALD 



"Oh, I suppose about thirty or a 
hundred. We haven't counted for 
centuries. Nobody's interested." 

She appeared to be deeply ab- 
sorbed in thought, gazing at him 
in an almost detached fashion. 
Finally she said, "Vo\ir civilization 
is based on the mind, isn't it? You 
do things with an act of will instead 
of with your hands." 

"Naturally. That is the essential 
mark of civilization. At least," he 
added politely, "from our point of 
view." 

"Are you-^telepathic?" 

"Only with other telepaths,*' he 
said simply. 

"Then how did you leam my 
language?" 

"Oh, after you talk it a bit, I 
can see certain relationships. But 
the mental pictures are so discon- 
tinuous and nonspecific that it takes 
a little time before the pattern 
emerges." 

"That means you don't actually 
know what I am thinking?" 

"Correct. You have the potential, 
but you don't have the control 
necessary to permit it." 

A small, satisfied smile curved 
about her lips. 

Tensor found it oddly disconcert- 
ing. Despite the ugly sheathing, 
there was something about her that 
was quite pleasant. 

He began to feel that she was 
even beautiful, and a'* he disinte- 
grated the sheath in order to ap- 
preciate her better, he realized that 
that it was undoubtedly the strange 
endocrine balance he had created 
in himself that was responsible for 
the attitude. Because there was 
nothing particularly well-designed 
about her. She looked unprepos- 



sessingly like a civilized woman, ex- 
cept a good deal fatter in places, 
which hardly helped matters from 
an abstract point of view. 

Tensor could only assume that 
his point of view was becoming less 
abstract. 

He observed that, upon his dis- 
integrating the sheath, the noise 
was there again, issuing rapidly 
from her mouth, and lacking in de- 
tailed semantic significance. It was 
very curious, he thought, watching 
the rapid rise and fall of her pink- 
tipped breasts. He could not deter- 
mine whether the signal indicated 
terror or fury. 

She solved the problem for him 
by grasping a small metal object 
from the rack beside her and throw- 
ing at him. He deflected it to the 
floor as it left her hand. 

"What," he asked politely, "is 
disturbing you so?" He liked the 
angry sparkle of her eyes. 

"You," she snapped. "Keep away 
from me.'* * 

"I don't understand," he replied, 
moving closer and reaching out his 
hand to obtain a tactile sensation 
of her lovely hair texture. The 
woman compressed her red lips 
firmly and stood there, uneasily 
watching him out of the corner of 
■ her eyes as he gently stroked her 
head. 

"Do all females of your race look 
nice like you?" 

She nodded cautiously and said, 
"More or less." 

"Very curious." 

A sly expression came to her eyes 
then and she smiled radiantly. 
"Look," she said, "would you do 
me a favor?" 

"Of course," Tensor murmured 



FAIR AND WARMER 



91 



with unaccustomed eagerness. This 

was a very interesting experience, 
even though he was constantly hav- 
ing to reinforce and add to the 
chemical shift in his body in order 
to hold down the possibility of fa- 
tigue. He could not recall ever be- 
fore permitting .such an unusual 
somatic state. 

She gestured guilelessly toward 
the panel. "Would you help me 
repair my radio?" 

"Radio?" Tensor echoed vacant- 
ly, gazing at the place indicated. 

"Yes. I — er, have to report to my 
superiors that I may not be able to 
return, even tonight." Again she 
smiled dazzlingly and with devas- 
tating efTcct on Tensor. 

"I'd be glad to," he said agree- 
ably. "But I don't know anything 
about mechanical things. Couldn't 
you just tell me where your su- 
periors are and let me teleport 
there? Pd let them know and come 
right hack." 

*'Oh no," she replied quickly. She 
frowned a little wistfully. "No," she 
repeated, "they wouldn't like that. 
They never like anything easy. And 
besides — " again the smile " — I 
might not he here when you return, 
you know!" 

"Oh?" Tensor said, puzzled that 
she knew that he might be con- 
cerned over her absence. Possibly 
she had some power of direct com- 
munication after all. 

"It's just those cables that you 
destroyed over the panel," she told 
him in a softly cajoling voice. "I 
have some spares in the locker, and 
if you would help me replace them, 
it would be fine." 

Tensor floated over and peered 
into the stumps, examining the 



composition and structure. He 
nodded and reconstructed them in- 
stantly. 

She was obviously delighted and 
said, "I wondered if you could do 
that. May I use the radio now?" 

Tensor stared at the whiteness of 
her teeth contrasting pleasingly 
with the redness of her lips. "Go 
right ahead." he murmured. He de- 
cided he had better leave soon. 

He watched as the brilliant spots 
of color glowed and shifted. She 
spoke and the panel issued its re- 
sponse. "Control to Scout Three. 
What happened there a while ago?'* 

"This is urgent," she said. "Is the 
Captain there?" 

After a noisy hesitation, the panel 
replied. "This is Commander Car- 
son. What's up out there?" 

"Listen carefully," she said. "I 
have an alien with me on the ship. 
He's already learned English per- 
fectly. He is only slightly telepathic, 
so far as I am concerned, but he 
has great tclckinctic powers." 

"We were afraid of that. Is he 
dangerous?" 

"Well — he killed Lieutenant An- 
derson. Completely annihilated her 
with a simple act of will." She 
glanced at the bewildered expres- 
sion on Tensor's face, and favored 
him with a quick little smile. "He 
is extremely powerful. He would 
be a very good friend." 

Tensor broke in asking, "What 
is all this talk now? I do not under- 
stand the purpose of it." 

"Don't you worry," she mur- 
mured softly, reaching up and pat- 
ting him on the knee, "Just have 
patience." 

The panel rasped at them. "I 
see. Do you know if there are many 



92 



E. G. VON WALb 



of them?" 

"He told me it was between thirty 
and a hundred, but nobody knows 
for sure. Presumably they don't 
have very much "communication 
with each other." 

"Ah," rasped the panel in a satis- 
fied tone. "Just a minute. I'll get 
a directive from the Captain for 
you." 

Tensor nodded slightly as he said, 
"Oh, I see. That is your Council 
you are talking to." 

"Uh huh," she replied, dodging 
the hand that sought her hair again. 
She smiled coyly. "Now just wait. 
I want to hear what my superiors 
say." She pushed at him playfully, 
her smile growing strained as she 
desperately tried to kill time. 

Tensor was amused. Yes, he de- 
cided, it was time to go. He was not 
at all sure that he wanted to go, 
but he felt that it was wise. He 
had never in his life engaged in 
such lengthy and violent exercise 
and was alarmed at the thought 
of the fatigue pains he would have 
when he restored his balance to a 
civilized neutral again. 

The panel rasped noisily at them. 

"Captain Jonas," it said, speak- 
ing in a different accent this time. 
"There's a war going on and we 
can't ake any chances on how the 
aliens will feel about it. We have a 
fix on you and I'm sending a flight 
of homing missies. Nuclear wax- 
heads.** 

She stiffened as she heard the 
sentence, her red lips drawn back 
from tightly clenched teeth. In a 
faint voice, she said, "I — I guess 
there isn't much I can do about it, 
is there?" 

"Can you keep him there and 



busy so that he won't notice the 
missiles coming?" 

She gave a short, brittle laugh. 
"Yes sir. I feel fairly sure I can 
keep him interested for — *' she 
glanced speculatively at Tensor " — 
a half hour at least. Probably much 
longer." 

"It'll only be fifteen minutes," 
the panel rasped. "We'll deal with 
the others as we find them. You 
will be decorated for this service, 
even though you are only a civilian. 
Posthumously, of course." 

The panel was silent. 

"Oh sure," she said in a deadly 
quiet voice. "I'm glad to be ap- 
preciated." 

Tensor was puzzled. The con- 
versation did not appear to make a 
great deal of sense to him. He hov- 
ered over^the panel and gazed at it 
curiously. 

"Just another superior," she told 
him. "It seems that practicaUy 
everybody is my superior — or was." 
She sighed and looked down at her- 
self, wistfully thinking that it was a 
shame to have to waste all the care- 
fully nurtured loveliness that she 
knew she was. 

She looked up at Tensor, who 
had lost interest in the panel and 
was busily examining the outside in 
a viewscope. 

"Come here, big boy»'* she said 
quickly. When he turned to face 
her, she added, "keep your atten- 
tion over here." 

With an agreeable smile, he 
floated to her and, in obedience to 
her directions, lifted her into his 
arms. She put her lips to his, her 
hands gently caressing his cheek. 

It was a shock. Tensor let out his 
pent-up breath explosively and ran 



FAIR AND WARMER 



93 



his tongue over his lips, tasting the 
mixture of saliva and lipstick. What 
should have been moderately repul- 
sive to him had been transformed 
by the chemical sympathy in his 
veins into something quite over- 
whelming. His eyes were bright 
and eager. 

"It's a dirty trick and I feel like 
a jerk," she whispered sadly to him. 
"But what else can I do?" 

"I beg your pardon?" Tensor 
murmured happily. "I do not un- 
derstand you." 

"Oh well," she breathed softly, 
smiling a crooked little smile. 
"Neither one of us will ever know 
when it happens. A pity to spoil it 
so soon, though." 

In his unaccustomed confusion. 
Tensor could not follow her 
thought, but he could grasp the im- 
mediate situation. He grinned and 
nuzzled her afTectionately, and de- 
cided to stay a while longer. 

CURL was floating langorously In 
his comfortable focus, eyes half 
closed and glazed, mouth drooling- 
ly limp and hands carelessly askew. 
He formed his hypcrimagc to ap- 
pear erect and neat — and with a 
politely interested expression — 
while he idly contemplated the tele- 
pathic picture being projected into 
his own mind. 

"I see you've recovered,'* he 
said. "Splendid." 

"Yes, but what an ordeal," Ten- 
sor replied. His image took on the 
appearance of a relieved smile. "If 
it ever happens again — I don't 
know." 

"It was that bad?" Curl showed 
suitable lazy civilized sympathy. "I 



was afraid. All that tcleporting of 
yourself and things." 

"It took me almost ten minutes 
to recover from it," Tensor said 
grimly, 

"Tsk tsk. That's a lot of lactic 
acid to locate and destroy. But the 
Council will appreciate it, even If 
Prime did complain, poor fellow." 

"Well, I promised to investigate 
and I'm a man of my thought. Of 
course, the curiosity vanished as 
soon as I got into actual communi- 
cation with one of them." 

"They communicate?" Curl per- 
mitted his Image to appear mildly 
astonished, which was the only civi- 
lized thing to do. "Tell me about 
it." 

"It's crude, but in some things 
successful," Tensor explained. "The 
alien I contacted was a female, for 
instance. When I adjusted for rela- 
tive somatic sympathy so that I 
could stand the poor, uncivilized 
creature, I naturally acquired the 
full appetites of a male animal and 
this female seemed to understand 
some of my thoughts very well. 

"You simply can't imagine the 
violent somatic compulsions one en- 
counters under such a balance." 

"Horrible," agreed Curl. "But I 
understand, my boy. I once fa- 
thered a child — mu.st have been at 
least a couple of thousand years 
ago. Purely out of scientific inter- 
est, of course, and never again." 
The physician paused and added, 
"Matter of fact, It's quite likely 
that you're that child. Can't ever 
tell about these things, you know." 

Tensor nodded in polite agree- 
ment and continued with his own 
story. '*It wasn't at all bad while it 
was going on, because I was pretty 



94 



E. G. VON WALD 



well anesthetized from body chem- 
icals. But the hangover was ter- 
rific." 

"Yes, no doubt." Curl appeared 
to consider a monTcnt before iisk- 
ing. "What about this uncivilized 
hubbub the Prime raised that 
caused the council to order him to 
destroy himself?" 

"Oh, that. Well, just as I was 
about to leave, this primitive I v/as 
with coaxed me into playing an in- 
teresting but remarkably violent 
sport with her. And about the same 
time, it appears that her superiors, 
for .loinc unknown reason, decided 
to destroy her. It seems that the 
aliens' Council doesn't let them 
take care of it themselves." 

"Uh, huh. How did they accom- 
plish it?" 

"They used some nuclear break- 
down devices, which I imagine 
serve their primitive society quite 
well. The devices have appetites 
built into them for a certain kind 
of target so they will know where 
to go. 

"But when I agreed to play this 
game, I naturally set up a privacy 
ifocus, so the ship we were in just 



didn't exist for the nuclear devices. 
They kept on looking, though, and 
finally found a lot of similar ships 
back at the alien's main camp. 
Made an awful mess out of one of 
the Prime's favorite landscapes, I 
understand." 

"Well," Curl replied engagingly, 
"Prime should have had better self- 
control. I don't blame the Council 
a bit, and it docs fix things up 
rather nicely." His image smiled 
into Tensor's mind and then hesi- 
tated as he saw the concern there. 
"Doesn't it?" 

"Uh, yes. AH except for the alien 
female ^hat insists on staying with 
me, now, since none of her people 
is left on the planet. I told her two 
or three times to go ahead and de- 
stroy herself if she wanted; but she 
just rumples up my hair, grins at 
mc and says she already has." He 
looked worriedly at Curl. 

"Well, that's just one of those 
things, I gTiCss," Curl murmured 
philosoph ically. Sen^iing a local 
distraction approaching Tensor at 
that moment, he politely with- 
drew from the other man's mind. 
• ■ • THE END 



LONESOME HEARTS 

a million tiny chirps joined together. 
"I landed with such force that I 
came apart. Now each of my body 
cells lives a life of its own. And now 
and then each cell grows fat and 
becomes two. I am my sisters, I . . /' 
Let's not be subtle about it. Mjly 
was a microbe, the beginning of 
animal life on the earth. She lives 
today, she is and always will be her 
sisters, her mothers, hersclve.-; and 



(Continued from page 78) 

her ancestors. But there arc few 
ancestors, for microbes do not die-^ 
just part of themselves die. 

And I do not die. For I crept 
away into a hole in the ground, 
where I will live forever. I do not 
starve, for roots reach me here. But 
I miss my iove life with Mjly. I can 
never be a mother or a sister. I will 
always be me, a lonesome old bem. 
• • • THE END 







The body tanks had to be re- 
plenished and the ship had to 
be serviced — and the crew was 
having a Lotus dream in its 
bed of protoplasm. But Kelly 
knew how to arouse them . . . 



Has Anybody 

Here Seen 

Kelly? 

By Kenneth O'Hara 

Illustrated by Paul Orbon 



THE CREW pulsed -with con- 
tentment and its communal 
singing brought a pleasant kind of 
glow that throbbed gently in the 
control room. 

" 'Has anybody here seen Kelly 
. . . K-E-double-L-Y?' " 

"Shut up and dig my thought!" 
Kelly's stubborn will insisted. "I'm 
going on out for a while!" 

The delicate loom of the Crew's 
light pattern increased its frequency 
a little and the song stopped. "Bet- 



96 



KENNfTH O'HARA 



ter not," the Crew said. 

"But why not?" 

"No need." 

"We couid be running into some- 
thing bad," Kelly thought. 

"No danger now, Kelly. Check- 
ing the ship is just a waste of time." 

"How can you waste what you 
have so damn much of?" Kelly 
thought. 

"Do not leave us again, Kelly. 
We love you and you are the most 
interesting part of the Crew when 
you're with it." 

"The ship ought to be checked. 
Our bodies ought to be looked at." 

"We know there is no danger 
any more, Kelly. Do not go. There 
are so many interesting experiences 
we have not even begun to share 
yet. We are only half way through 
your life and we have not even 
started to experience your impres- 
sions of your colorful and complex 
Earth culture. And we have not 
even started on the adult lives of 
Lakrit or Lljub. Come back with 
your Grew, Kelly." 

"But no one's checked the ship 
for over a year!" 

"Please do not worry about the 
ship, Kelly. In fifty years nothing 
has gone wrong. We can trust the 
ship thoroughly now, it will take 
care of us." 

"It will take care of usf That's 
a helluva way to look at it!" 

"There can be no danger now, 
Kelly. In fifty years we have en- 
countered every conceivable dan- 
ger, every imaginable kind of world 
or possible menace." 

"Have we?" Kelly thought. 
*'Every danger from outside maybe, 
and I'm not even sure of that. But 
how about danger from inside?" 



"Inside?" 

"Us. How about apathy for in- 
stance. Apathy's a real danger. You 
talk about this space-can like it was 
a big metal mother! Listen, I'm 
supposed to see that this tub holds 
together. At least until we get back 
somewhere near enough to the 
Solar system so we'll feel we've 
been somewhere else!" 

"But, Kelly—" 

"I'm getting out for a while, I 
tell you!" 

"Al! right," the Crew sighed. The 
light loom faded a bit, down to a 
self-indulgent glow. "Hurry back to 
us, Kelly." 

"I'll give some thought to it." 

So Kelly concentrated on the in- 
creasingly painful and difficult task 
of tearing his consciousness free of 
the big glob of protoplasm in the 
tank, and getting it back into hi.s 
body that hibernated in the bunk- 
room. 

As usual the switch was too pain- 
ful. It stretched and stretched and 
finally snapped in an all too famili- 
ar explosion of shocking light. 

HIS BONES creaked. His skin 
rustled as he sat up and 
looked around. There was die old 
feeling that there was dust over 
everything when there was no dust. 
There was all that emptiness sweep- 
ing away into the endless silence 
and be thought again, as he always 
did, how comforting and cozy it 
was being a part of the Crew. 

But someone had to check the 
ship. It was only machinery after 
all. and machinery could wear out, 
sooner or later. And he wasn't at 
all sure, as he kept insisting, that 
they had encountered all the possi- 



HAS ANYBODY HERE SEEN KELLY? 



97 



blp dangers. 

It might seem that in fifty years 
you could run into everything. But 
fifty years was no time at all out 
here where time had no real mean- 
ing any more. 

His body squeaked as he took a 
few tentative steps about the bunk- 
room. One did not actually forget 
how to walk. It was just awkwai-d 
as thn devil. And the blood, the en- 
tire autonomic system, tended to 
.slow down. It seemed reluctant to 
step up general metabolism. 

Apathy. Sure it was a danger. 
This time, Kelly decided, I'll do 
Romcthing about it. He was the en- 
gineer and he had signed on the 
great odysscy to keep the ship go- 
ing. But the Grew was part of the 
ship. Was not there an obligation 
even greater to keep the Crew go- 
ing? 

The four others lived but almost 
imperceptibly in some very low 
state of slowed metabolism there in 
the bunkroom and Kelly looked at 
them. The faithful and the wonder- 
ful ones. The ones with whom he 
had shared .so many dangers and 
awful silences that the five of them 
had been able to evolve the idea of 
the protoplasm in the tank and 
merge their consciousness in it. 

Kew, the Venusian. in her bowl 
of self-renewing nitrate. Lakrit from 
a Juptcrian satellite, a fluorine fel- 
low of distinction inside a sphere of 
gaseous sulphur. A ciystalline char- 
acter with a sense of humor named 
Lljub whose form gave off a paled 
glint as it nourished itself on sili- 
cates. And a highly intelligent but 
humble six foot long sponge labeled 
Urdaz stuck in a foundation of 
chemical sediment at the bottom of 



a tank of reprocessing salt water. 

Each with their own special kind 
of appendages and sensitivities, 
each able to move his special closed- 
system about through the ship by 
means of clever types of mobility. 

But basically, in outward form, 
they were too alien to have much 
in common. Only as intelligences, 
as life forces, could they share a 
common bed. And it had evolved 
to that in fifty years. A bed of pro- 
toplasm in a shock-absorbent tank. 

Kelly looked at them warmly and 
thought about how it had worked 
out. The strange thing was that it 
did have a lot of good things to 
recommend it. Or had had them. 
It had solved the problem of inti- 
mate communication and driven 
back the tides of loneliness. It had 
lessened the dangers of mental and 
physical illnesses in the material 
bodies and assured a prolongation 
of the life of each body, which was 
important in itself, for this trip had 
proven to be a lot, longer than 
even tlie most pessimistic had an- 
ticipated. 

The Crew, pulsing in its tank, 
Kelly thought oddly, is a new life 
form. One that had evolved to meet 
the exigencies of deep space which 
had proven to be alien to any 
adaptability common to any world 
that rotated through it. 

But maybe they were too damn 
happy, Kelly thought. Too con- 
tented. If they ran into a rea! 
emergency now, the ship would be 
finished. The Crew in the tank 
was, itself, incapable of action of 
any overt kind. It could not ma- 
nipulate anything. It could only be 
happy. 

And the bodies here in the bunk- 



98 



KENNETH O'HARA 



room could not rally fast enough 
to meet a sudden crisis. 

And they had agreed that the 
first law was — -survival. 

But to survive this way might 
well mean destrurtion in another. 

So Kelly walked and thought 
about it, and weighed the precari- 
ous balance. 

He slipped through the silent 
ship and to the control room. He 
peered into the viewscopc. Some 
galaxy or other spun its giant pln- 
whccl outward toward some destiny 
of its own. The high noon of the 
endlessness had heen unfamiliar for 
years. He checked the ship's instru- 
ments. The Crew in the big tank 
simmered and throbbed in its intro- 
spective blis.s, utterly oblivious to 
Kelly now. 

Kelly saw the red dwarf a few 
hundred million kilos away. Three 
planets ^ound their familiar path 
around it. The second in distance 
had a breathable oxygen, accord- 
ing to the scopes, but little else to 
recommend it. 

Kelly straightened up. He had no 
idea when the plan had really 
started forming, but now it was 
formed. When Kelly made up his 
mind to a thing, there was no other 
course but to conclude it. He knew 
what he had to do. 

Somehow, even as part of the 
Crew, some part of Kelly had been 
able to keep that forming plan a 
secret. Which was a lucky miracle, 
for if the Crew had known hts in- 
tentions it would certainly not have 
let him out this time. 

Even if you wanted out, Kelly 
reasoned, the Crew would keep you 
in. And maybe after long enough 
you did not care to get out. But 



once out, he wondered, could it 
keep you out if it decided to black- 
ball a man for one reason or an- 
other? 

Like wrecking the ship? 



IN THE CHROME strip abo^ 
the control panel. Kelly saw his 
face grinning stiangely back at hifn, 
a bearded, hollowed, paled face 
with an unfamiliar glitter in the 
eyes. Every time he had left the 
Crew to enter and reactivate his 
own body, that bodv had seemed a 
little less familiar. This time it 
seemed to be almost entirely sorrie- 
onc else. 

He stared at the face in the 
chrome, then whispered the hell 
with that and he flipped the con- 
trols over to manual. He sat down. 
Behind him, the Crew whispered in 
its tank, protoplasm developed in 
the labs and quivering now with 
some unified sensation that was 
purely subjective and blissfully un- 
concerned with what happened out- 
side itself. 

"It*s sick," Kelly concluded, with 
an emphatic clamp of his jaws. 
"It's not right!" 

True, sharing the intimate sensa- 
tions of alien life forms like Kew, 
the female Venusian. had been ex- 
citing. Especially the sex experi- 
ences which, in a flower of Kew's 
type, was certainly something. 
There were interesting things to 
being a part of the Crew all right. 
,But the main purpose, survival, had 
been forgotten. Now bring the Crew 
was an end in itself. Kelly could 
imagine the Crew business going on 
and on until finally e\'cn the ma- 
terial bodies in the bunkroom^ would 



HAS ANYBODY HERE SEEN KELLY? 



99 



be forgotten entirely and allowed to 
rol away to dust about which the 
Crew would no longer care. 

And that was very bad. It should 
not have worked out this way. But 
it was not too late to do some- 
thing, shake them out of the Lotus 
dream. 

He checked the scopes dgain. 
Now the second planet revealed 
plenty of breathable atmosphere 
settled in the lower valleys. He 
headed straight for it. 

The Crew was soon gomg to get 
one devil of a jolt! 

He put the shi]) into a close orbit 
around the planet. It seemed noth- 
ing but a fearsome forest of oxy- 
dized spikes rising in corrosive .si- 
lence, with here and there a lean 
slash of valley. There was no indi- 
cation of life, no vegetation visible 
or revealed by the scopes. One of 
the valleys h;id a thin mouth of 
water stretching down the length 
of its face. Kelly set the speed and 
the controls and ran for the bunk- 
room and the shock-absorbant 
cushions. He strapped himself in 
and waited. 

It was done. As long as the thing 
had gone so far, Kelly decided, the 
truth should never be revealed be- 
cause that would lessen the thera- 
peutic value of his action. He would 
wreck the ship. Not too badly. Not 
so badly that all of the bodies, dis- 
tinrl, separate individual bodies 
again, couldn't put the ship back 
together, as in the old days. And 
tliat would keep them in their 
bodies gladly for a while where they 
belonged! Where the good Lord 
had intended for them to stay. 

They would not be rocked away 
to apathy in a phony metal mother 



womb, thinking the ship was going 
to take care of them.' 

The more Kelly thought about it, 
the better he felt. He stretched in- 
side the straps. He felt his slightly 
atrophied muscles lu.xuriate over 
the tissues and bones of liis big 
frame. 

Any body, no matter what its 
shape, should he proud of itself. 
That wa.s Kelly's belief, and this 
thing that had happened seemed 
somewhat blasphemous. Without 
bodies and their complex sensory 
recording apparatus, the rich con- 
sciousness enjoyed by the Crew 
could not exist, would never have 
been created at all. The Crew was 
living off the largesse of experience 
built up by their bodies. The Crew 
was just narcotized enough that it 
did not realize that the body banks 
had to be replenished. 

Metal shrieked. 

Kelly yelled feebly. He fought, 
he grappled with the threatening 
blackout like a man fighting an in- 
visible opponent on an endless 
flight of staii"s. 

The grinding rolling terror of the 
sound, the ripping, twisting, tearing 
scream of it cried on and on. KclJy 
knew one thing then. 

He had not figured it right. His 
calculations were off. The ship had 
hit too damn hard. 



L\TER when he managed to get 
the straps off and tried to move 
he fell painfully onto the tilled 
deck. One of his eyes felt sticky. 
He rubbed at it and his hand was 
smeared with blood. 

He shuffled around in a stum- 
bling circle. Minor damages could 



TOO 



KENNETH O'HARA 



have been repaired. But this — the 
ship was peeled open in glaring 
strips like a breakfast cannister. A 
cold wind moaned through the ship 
that was now nothing but a metal 
sieve. A hazy light filtered clown 
and ran off the metal like cold Hour 
rust. 

Kelly fell to his knees. "Kew " he 
whispered. "Lljub, Urdaz — Lak- 
rit . . ." 

The Venusian flower lady was 
sliced down the middle like a cab- 
bage, and the nitrate bowl was 
shattered and Kew was dead in a 
pool of fading green blood. 

Smashed into the bulkhead was 
Lakrit's sulphuric bathtub, and his 
atmosphere had already filtered 
away with the wind to wherever it 
was going. I.ljub's pale glow was 
out for good, and his crystalline 
heart was as opaque as a dead eye. 
Only a few pieces of Urdaz's tank 
were visible, and Urdaz himself had 
already turned to a powdery food 
that the wind ate slowly in long 
trailing streamers. 

"What — what in the name of 
God have I done?" Kelly whis- 
pered. 

All dead- 
No ! He slammed at the bulk- 
head until the warped metal gave 
and he ran to the control room. 
The Crew — the Crew — 

He stared at the tank. 

Through a jagged opening in the 
ship's walls, the wind whined and 
plucked at Kelly's red hair. The 
wind was colder now. He kept on 
looking at the tank. He reached out 
and touched the big transparent 
cui-ve of it and then jerked his hand 
back with a whimper in his breath. 

There was nothing in the tank. 



nothing but a blob of slowly drying 
slime. He pressed his nose to the 
tank. "Grew — " he whispered. 

There was no life in the slime. 
When he pounded on the tank, the 
stufiF collapsed in upon itself in 
withering flatness. 

Kelly yelled. The cold wind 
froze at bis Iceth. It sucked at his 
breath and dried at the interior of 
his mouth. He ran and climbed. 
The jagged periphery of the open- 
ing sliced at his flesh. But he did 
not feel it, and he fell twenty feet, 
without feeling that either, down 
the side of the ship. He started 
crawling over the hard naked belly 
of the rock. 

He got to his feet. He ran stum- 
bling down an incline of shale worn 
round and shiny by the wind that 
had blown here just as it blew now, 
and would blow for God alone 
possibly knew how long. He fell 
and rolled to the edge of the water. 

He looked into it. He felt of it. 
He jerked his hand away. The stuff 
was icy. But it was worse than icy. 
It was dead. It was dead water. It 
was without any bottom, and with- 
out any life in it anywhere. You 
could tell by looking into it. The 
wind moved over the top of it as 
though the water were glass, and 
the water was the color of a slightly 
transparent naked blue steel. 

There was no life here. Maybe 
there had been once, who knew 
when, who could guess how long 
ago. But there was none now and 
even the water had forgotten it. 

Kelly cried out as he stood up. 
"What have I done?" He raised 
his arms at the hazy red sun lying 
over the spires of towering stone 
and metal like a bloated balloon 



HAS ANYBODY HERE SEEN KELLY? 



101 



scraping precariously over rusty 
spikes. "Godj what have I done?" 

The cry echoed tinnily on the 
rocks and fled on the wind. 

Kelly ran for a long way, falling 
and stumbling and getting up 
again. Kelly had always had one 
primary drive, and that was to keep 
going, no matter what. So now he 
tried to keep going. 

But thprc was no life on this 
planet. He had known that before. 
Some strange kinds of intelligence 
could tolerate some unpleasant 
worlds. But nothing would live 
here. 

Nothing could live here. 

"That's your fate," Kelly thought. 
He sat down and stared at the walls 
of rock and metal all around. "Your 
fate, Kelly. Your punishment, your 
well deserved hell." 

That was what it was. Retribu- 
tion. And knowing that, he tried 
not to care. He tried to be glad and 
face what he deserved. 

If that were not the answer, then 
why had only Kelly been spared to 
face emptiness and silence and no 
life, all alone? 

The irony of it was that he would 
go on as long as possible keeping 
himself alive in his own hell. There 
was food aplenty in the ship, 
enough to last as long as hell cared 
to have him. 

He turned and started walking 
back toward the ship that seemed 
some five miles away. At that in- 
stant, the ship disappfared in an 
abrupt explosion that twiscd the 
rocks and a mushroom cloud flow- 
ered gently above the lake as Kelly 
fell trembling on his belly and 
hugged the ground and pushed his 
face into the shale while the wind 



tore and screamed around him and 
particles of flint ripped his clothes 
and slashed at his flesh. 



HE DID NOT bother walking 
much farther toward where 
the ship had been. There was only 
a crater there now which would 
offer him nothing in the way of sus- 
taining his veiy personal and thor- 
oughly private hell. 

He walked. The effort became 
more difficult and finally he was on 
his hands and knees, crawling. The 
wind sucked at his ripped clothes, 
and felt like cold sharp steel in his 
raw wounds. But slowly and delib- 
erately he continued to crawl. 

Kelly had always had the idea 
that a man should keep going and 
so now he kept on going. Even if 
there was no place to go, and you 
could not remember particularly 
where you had been, you kept on 
moving and fighting and slugging 
along until you could no longer 
move. 

He lay there looking up at the 
hazy rust of the sky with the naked 
spires pointing up into it for no 
reason at all, because there was 
nothing up there. 

He had been there and he knew. 
Nothing up there but space, black 
and without a beginning or end. He 
had not even checked the records 
of the ship so that now, lying here, 
he did not even know how far away 
from Earth he was, At the speed 
they had traveled, a ship went a 
long way in fifty years. But the ship, 
the records, everything was lost. 

And no one would ever know 
now how far they had come. 

Or gone. What was the differ- 



102 



KENNETH O'HARA 



enco, anyway? 

But Kelly had no difficulty in re- 
membering zchy tiicy had come. 

They had come into space be- 
cause that was Iiovv it was with 
those who fouj^ht their way up to 
being the doni i na te life form of 
whatever world they had lived on 
and grown and died on. If you 
were the kind who went into space, 
you went because space was there. 

Who needed a better reason than 
that? 

"Kcw," he whispered. "Lakrit, 
Lijub,Urda2, listen now — I thought 
I was doing the right thing — maybe 
my idea was right — but I just made 
a mistake in the calculations. I just 
made a helluva mistake — " 

The wind sighed over the naked 
rock and the rusted metal and the 
rock and the dead blue water. 

He turned and pushed his head 
against the rock, and his body 
curled up against the bitter wind. 
^'You've got to forgive me," he 
said. 

" 'Has anybody here seen Kelly? 
K-E-double-L-Y?"* 

He shivered and kept his eyes 
closed. It was part of the wind. He 
did not want to go out that way, 
hearing crazy voices In the wind. 

" 'Has anybody here seen 
Kelly—?' " 

He raised his head and blinked 
and the wind drove tears down his 
checks. 

"Am I just hearing something 
that's going crazy inside my head?" 
He peered around. There was noth- 
ing, nothing anywhere of course, 
nothing where nothing had ever 
been, and nothing else but nothing 
could ever be. 

"You're wrong, Kelly. Your 



Crew's here." 

KoUy raised himself painfully to 
an elbow. "Where — where?" 

"Right here, Kelly. We had a 
difficult time locating you. Sure, we 
forgive you. You were trying to do 
what was right. We know that." 

"There's nothing - — nothing — - " 
Kelly said. 

*'You'rc wrong. The Crew's here 
and we're waiting." 

He stared at the rock. He put his 
face against it and pushed his 
hands to it. There was a kind of 
dull glow in it, a faint hint of 
warmth in the rock. 

*'How can this be?" Kelly said. 

"This is the life here, Kelly. Per- 
haps there is life everywhere in the 
most impossible seeming places. 
And where life is, Kelly, we can 
live with it and be welcomed by it. 
Here, this rock is life, and it has 
taken us in. It has been here a long 
time. And it will be here for a much 
longer time." 

"Rock," Kelly said. 

"But hurry and come back." 

"But no one will ever know. 
How long — how long can wc wait?" 

"Who can answer that, Kelly? 
But maybe they will find the Grew 
someday." 

Kelly looked up once at the com- 
pletely unfamiliar distances grow- 
ing darker. Sometime, he thought, 
they'll come from wherever Earth 
is and find the Crew of the ship, 
find a rock here waiting the ages 
out. 

"Hurry, Kelly!" 

His head dropped against the 

rock. His hands slid down it, and a 

smile moved over his lips and froze 

there as the wind whispered over it. 

• • • THE END 



What Is Your Science I.Q.? 

LET'S FACE IT, the scienre fiction writers take it for grantecl 
that you are familiar with the terms they sprinkle through their 
stories so generously. But do you really know what tliey are talk- 
ing about? Let's pin you down; see how many of the questions 
below you can answer correctly. Each correct answer counts five; 
70 is good, 80 is very good, and over 85 makes you a whizz! 

L A distance of approximately 62001 light years is called a 



2. In which constellation is the star Bctelgcuse located? 

3. The ability to move matter through force of mind only is 
called 

4. Which planet takes 68,7 days to travel around the sun? 

5. The point at which all molecular motion ceases is known 
theoretically as , __^. 

6. Which of the planets is the hottest in the solar system? 

7. The moon is in apogee when it is from the sun. 

8. In what year was the cyclotron invented? 

9. Ariel, Umbricl, Titania and Oberon are the four satellites 
of 

10. Approximately how many light years from Earth is the North 
Star? 

1 1. Pluto, Mercury and are the only planets in our solar 

system that have no satellites. 

12. Which element is 14^ times lighter than air? 

13. A day on Jupiter is as long as a day on Earth. 

14. What term do we use to describe the biological alteration 
of a species of living organism? 

15. The star . - sends out 160 times more light than the sun. 

16. At approximately how many miles an hour does the sun move 
through space? 

17. The Coalsack region is a nonluminous or dark nebula in 
the „ , 

18. Which is the third largest planet in our solar system? 

19. A comet consists of a nucleus, a , and a tail. 

20. We know Atlantis is a supposedly sunken continent in the 
Atlantic; what is the name of the continent that is supposed 
to have sunk in the Pacific? 

__ 



Trading with Mr. Wetzle, whose fright chemistry was 

peculiarly akin to that of a good old American skunk, 
was dangerous business. However, Sammy had prin- 
ciples and nobody — and no aroma! — was going to 
shake him from them. 



THE 



BIG 



STINK 



By Theodore R. Cogswell 

Illustrated by Ed Emsh 



LIKE SAMMY said, even if it 
was only a hole in the wall, it 
was his drugstore; and if any 
gonifT from the Anti-Martian 
League thought he was going to 
tell him how to run his business, 
he had another think coming. 

His wife Sarah wasn't seeing 
eye to eye with him. It wasn't be- 
cause she was eighty pounds heavi- 
er and a foot taller than he was, 
it was simply that every time 
Sammy got his back up, some- 
body got hurt — and it was usually 
Sammy. 

"Last time you said that it was 
to that nice young man from the 
Merchants Protective Association 
who wanted you to take out in- 

105 



surance on the new store. And 
what happened? Three times in 
two weeks hoodlums break in and 
smash things up." 

"I got my principles," said 
Sammy sternly. 

"Yeah," said Sarah, "princi- 
ples! Ten years we save so that 
yoxi, a registered pharmacist, a 
man who placed third on the 
state boards, should have a big 
place you could be proud of in- 
stead of a dirty little hole like this. 
Wc finally get it and what hap- 
pens? You got principles and the 
bank has Rosen's Cut-Rate Drugs. 
Now we're starting over again, 
business ain't too bad, already 
we've been able to put away a lit- 



106 



THEODORE R. COGSWELL 



tie for a rainy day, and you and 
your principtes want to start 
trouble again." 

"Trouble I don't want," said 
Sammy. "Trouble I've never want- 
ed, I'm a peace loving man. But I 
got my rights. Sammy Rosen isn't 
going to let himself be shoved 
around by nobody." 

"Who's getting shoved? So ya 
sign a paper. Maybe you're going to 
drop dead, you should sign a pa- 
per? O'Reilly next door, he's not 
doing business because he signed a 
paper? Ail of Fourth Avenue and 
you're the only one that's got to be 
stubborn." 

"What should O'Reilly know 
about principles? Eight years now 
he's been having the same fire sale. 
Sign the paper, NO! There will be 
no sign in my window saying that 
Martians, will not be served here." 

Sarah sighed in exasperation. 

"That green fur-ball comes here 
maybe two three times a week to 
buy a nickle's worth of candy. For 
that business you should maybe get 
a brick through the window like 
last time? You sign the paper so 
we should keep out of trouble and 
next time he comes in you tell him 
he should go buy his candy some- 
place else and not get honest people 
in trouble." 

"You order some more chocolate 
syrup?" asked Sammy. "Last time 
I checked we were getting low." 

"Don't change the subject. That 
man said he would be back In ten 
minutes." 

"So he wants to come back, he 
can come back. It's a free world." 

Mr. Suggs was back in six min- 
utes. He was a large man and the 
conservative business suit he wore 



didn't harmonize well with the bulk 
of his shoulders, his cauliflower 
cars, or the generally battered ap- 
pearance of his fat face. 

"Afternoon, Mr. Rosen," he 
boomed. "Lovely day, ain't it. Xind 
of weather that makes a man glad 
he's alive and healthy. Right?" 

"Right," said Sammy with a 
touch of uneasiness. 

The big man opened his brief- 
case and took out a legal looking 
document. 

"Now that you've had time to 
think it over, I know you've come 
to see things our way. Just sign here 
and you'll be a member in good 
standing of the Anti-Martian 
League just like everybody else 
around here." 

Drawing himself up to his full 
five feet two, Sammy shoved the 
paper away and said with all the 
firmness he could master, "Any- 
body wants to buy something in my 
store, that's what I got it for. All 
kinds of people come in here. I 
should start putting signs up this 
one can't come in because he don't 
vote the way I do and that one 
can't come in because he calls his 
god a difTerent name than I do, and 
pretty soon there's so many sif^ns in 
the window that the sun can't get 
in and the only customer I got left 
is my.self." He paused for breath 
and gave the document another 
shove. "Sammy Rosen's name don't 
go down on nothing like that!" 

"Listen, punk," growled the big 
man, and then suddenly caught 
himself. "Listen, Mr. Rosen, I 
agree with you a hundred percent. 
But what you're talking about are 
humans. Martians ain't." 

"Human or Martian, a customer 



THE BIG STINK 



107 



is a customer. What's where a cus- 
tomer comes from got to do with 
my doing business with him? I go 
to pay my rent I don't have to fill 
out a paper saying where I got each 
dollar." 

The big man snorted in disgust. 
"So that's it. You little guys are all 
alike. You like to talk about prin- 
ciples but what you're really afraid 
of is losing a nickel. Well suppose I 
fix things so that by joining the 
League you make yourself a nice 
chunk of change on the deal?" 

Without waiting for Sammy's 
answer, he opened his briefcase 
again and took out a small vial and 
placed it on the counter. Samnny 
looked at it questioningly. 

"Maybe this will make you 
change your mind," said the big 
man. 

"What is it?" 

"A full ounce of Venusian 
Leather!" 

Sammy's eyebrows went up and 
he whistled in spile of himself. Like 
everybody else he had heard of the 
fabulously expensive scent for men 
put out by the House of Arnett, a 
perfume that had such a powerful 
emotional effect on members of the 
opposite sex that for years there 
had been some talk in the World 
Congress of banning it. 

"That's worth five thousand 
smackers on the wholesale market," 
said the big man. "Just put your 
John Henry down here and it's 
yours." 

"He'll sign!" said Sarah quickly. 
She turned fiercely on her husband. 
"You heard what the man said — 
five thousand dollars! With that we 
can get out of this hole in the wall 
and have a decent place again. 



Think of it, Sammy, a big place on 
the corner with a neon sign six feet 
high blinking out ROSEN'S CUT- 
RATE DRUGS in red and green 
and purple!" 

The picture hit Sammy hard. He 
closed his eyes, the better to vis- 
ualize the glorious sight. Like a 
man in a trance his hand reached 
out slowly for the fat-bellied foun- 
tain pen that Mr. Suggs was hold- 
ing out to him. 

"You'll never regret this, Rosen. 
You're the last place within twenty 
blocks of the spaceport that hasn't 
signed. With the neighborhood one 
hundred percent against them, 
those stinking greenies are going to 
feel so unpopular that they'll have 
to pack up and go home." 

Sammy hesitated and then 
picked up the contract and scanned 
it ncar-sightedly. 

"There's an awful lot of small 
print here," he said. 

"It's all on the up-and-up," said 
the big man. "All that it boils down 
to Is that you agree not to have no 
truck with any Martians that hap- 
pen to come around. It's for your 
own protection. If we don't put 
that bunch in their place, pretty 
soon Earth will be swarming with 
those little stinkers." 

"Maybe so," muttered Sammy, 
"but five thousand bucks just so I 
don't sell a couple of nickels worth 
of candy, that don't make sense." 

"It doesn*t have to," said Mr. 
Suggs. "Like you said yourself, 
when you go to pay your rent no- 
body's asking where the money 
came from . You want to kee p 
Earth safe for Earthmen, you sign. 
Any time a Martian lands, he's put 
in Coventry. Nobody talks to him, 



108 

nobody does business with him, no- 
body even lets on he exists. Under 
the treaty the World Government 
made after the first landing on 
Mars, we can't keep them from 
coming here. But there's nothing in 
the law that says we got to make 
them welcome. This here contract 
is just a legal gentleman's agree- 
ment that — " 

"A WHAT?" 

"A legal gentleman's agree- 
ment." 

*'OUT!'* 

Sammy's eyes were blazing. 

"What's eating you?" demanded 
Suggs. "What did I say?" 

"Enough! Enough to bring me 
to my senses. And for a fistful of 
dirty dollars I, Sammy Rosen, was 
going to be a part of it." He spat 
in self-disgust. 

"Now listen here!" 

"I don't listen to nothing. Get 
out of my store before I call a cop!" 

The big man turned to Sarah. 

"Can't you reason with him, 
lady?" 

She took one look at her hus- 
band's tight-lipped face and 
shrugged her shoulders hopelessly. 
"Not when he's like that." 

"You don't listen to nothing, eh, 
Rosen? We'll see about that." He 
picked up his briefcase and the per- 
fume and started toward the door. 
When he reached it he turned. 

"You're going to find out what a 
stinker a Martian can really be. 
And when you do, you're going to 
be happy to sign — for nothing!" 



SAMMY SLEPT in the store that 
night but nobody tried to break 
in and no bricks came crashing 



THEODORE R. COGSWELL 

through the windows. When Sarah 
arrived with his breakfast, he was 
in a slightly happier mood. 

"See," he said, "no trouble." 

Sarah didn't say anything. Sam- 
my was about to receive the silent 
treatment. Just after she left and he 
had settled down in his old rocker 
at the rear of the store to read the 
morning paper, he heard the tinkle 
of the customer bell from the front. 
When he saw nobody standing on 
the other side of the counter he 
knew who had come in. He leaned 
over the showcase and looked 
down at the little foot-high ball of 
green fur that was bouncing up and 
down in front of the candy case. 
When it saw him it piped in a flut- 
tering flute-like voice, "A thousand 
greetings, egg-mother. May your 
fwentok never lose its rotundity and 
your gertlings embrace all eternity." 

"Mazel-tov yourself, Mr. Wet- 
zle," said Sammy politely. "Nice 
day, isn't it." 

"For Marslings the response is in 
the negative. Tomorrow is our last 
day earthside." 

"Business isn't so good?" 

"Business isn't. The streets are 
full of signs saying here we cannot 
enter, and the buyers who come to 
our ship look at our holds of dried 
keera berries and laugh or say an- 
gry words and depart without buy- 
ing." 

"Things'U get better," said Sam- 
my comfortingly. "They're bound 
to.'* 

"Is not better, egg-mother, is 
sadness and departing. In the com- 
ing there were bouncings of happi- 
ness and singings in the compan- 
ionways because now we were free 
of the Company and there would 



THE BIG STINK 



109 



we no more horrors for our folklings 

from the dwirtles in the trading 
shed. Six of your years my peoples 
had worked to save enough of the 
green earth paper to charter the 
ship that brought us. We were 
thinkings that because the Com- 
pany prized the berries that here 
they would be prized too. But it is 
not so and now we must return to 
tell our peoples that we have found 
only faihires. The Company will be 
angry because we came and now 
they will ask more and give less. 
And no protest will be made, for 
without the pumps and other ma- 
chine things we get from them to 
bring the water up from the deep 
wells there would come again the 
great hunger that was on us before 
the earthman came." 

"There must be some way out," 
said Sammy. "These berries, maybe 
if you took them to a good chemist 
he could find out what they were 
good for." 

"This we did," said the little 
Martian. "And after waiting came 
a long report full of big words 
which said in many different ways 
was usefulness nothing." He paused 
and ruffled his silky green fur. "But 
you have been my friend and it is 
not kind to be casting on your 
jwentok our troubles. My coming 
this day was to say farewell and 
blessings." He hesitated a moment. 
"And if you'll forgiving, to ask a 
question which is giving deep both- 
ering." 

"Yes?" said Sammy. 

**Why for four little Mars peoples 
could there be such a closing of 
stores against us and a putting of 
signs in windows?" 

"You've got me," said Sammy. 



*'There's an organization behind it, 
a big one, and they're spending a 
lot of money, a whole lot of 
money." He thought wistfully of 
the vanished five thousand dollars 
and what he could have done with 
it and then made a determined ef- 
fort to banish the thought from his 
head. Reaching down, he slid open 
the door on the candy case. 

"What'll you have this morning, 
Mr. Wetzle?" 

"Nothings," said the little Mar- 
tian sadly. "The last of my earth 
coins are gone and in my pouch 
now is nothings but valueless keera 
berries.'* He bounced almost to the 
front door and then turned. "Of 
you, egg-mother, there will be fond 
memories. Blessings and farewell." 

"Wait," said Sammy impulsively, 
and reaching into the candy case 
he filled a small sack with an as- 
sortment of licorice whips, lemon 
drops, green leaves, bubble gum, 
chocolate malt balls, and jawbreak- 
ers of various shapes and colors. 

"Here," he said, thrusting the 
bag forward. "Take it with you 
and eat in good health." 

Wetzle eyed the bag wistfully but 
didn't come forward to take it. 

"I bless your thought, egg- 
mother, but to take without pay- 
ment cannot be done. Such is the 
speaking of the oldsters." 

"Who said anything about no 
payment," said Sammy. "If those 
berries are good enough for that 
company on Mars, they ought to be 
good enough for Sammy Rosen." 
He paused as if he were making a 
quick mental computation. "I'd say 
there were about ten berries worth 
of candies in that sack." He held it 
forward again. "Here, take it." 



no 



THEODORE R. COGSWELL 



"But . . ." protested the Martian. 

"No buts," said Sammy firmly. "I 
run my business, I set my prices. 
Among friends there should be no 
argument." 

The alien hesitated for a moment 
and then gave a happy bounce that 
took him up on top of the candy 
counter. 

"Your goodness will not be for- 
gotten," he said. "Take them all. 
For me they have no value." 

A small, slit-like opening opened 
along his middle and a handful of 
small dried berries that looked like 
raisins, except for their brilliant 
reddish color, tumbled out on the 
counter. The slit continued to 
widen until a large pouch like 
that of a kangaroo was exposed and 
Sammy placed the bag of candy in- 
side it. 

The little Martian was half way 
through an elaborate expression of 
thanks when he was suddenly in- 
terrupted by a tapping sound from 
the front window. Both he and 
Sammy turned to see what was 
happening. Their responses to what 
they saw were rather different. 

In spite of the turned up collar of 
his trench coat and the pulled down 
brim of his slouch hat, Sammy was 
able to identify the man outside as 
Suggs, the Anti-Martian League 
agent. He was holding a bird cage 
in one hand and when he saw them, 
looking at him he held it up so they 
could see what was inside. 

Hanging almost motionless on 
two pairs of tiny fan-like wings was 
a tiny reptile with a long jeweled 
beak and glittering scales that sent 
flashes of sunlight into the store. 
Sammy stared at it with a sudden 
lump in his throat. He had never 



seen anything so beautiful in his 
whole life. 

Wetzle was staring too, but not in 
admiration. 

"Make him take it away, egg- 
mother, or something terrible will 
happen!" 

And just then something did. 
Suggs turned the cage so that the 
little flying reptile could look in the 
window. When it saw Wetzle it let 
out a sudden .sharp scream of rage 
and threw itself against the bars 
with a violent beating of wings, a 
long dagger-like tongue darting in 
and out of its beak. The Martian 
let out a squawk of hysterical fright 
and flattened down on top of the 
showcase like a semi-collapsed foot- 
ball. Simultaneously a ring of tiny 
hose-like members erected them- 
selves through his fur and shot a 
fine spray up into the air. Since 
Sammy was only two feet away, he 
got the full and immediate benefit 
of it. 

The stench was horrible, so hor- 
rible as to make the protective scent 
employed by skunks seem to be at- 
tar of roses in comparison, and so 
strong that for a moment Sammy 
was too stunned to react to it. 
When he finally did he staggered 
back drunkcnly, clapping both 
hands over nose and mouth in a 
vain effort to keep it out. His 
stomach heaved once, and then 
twice, and he made a sudden dive 
for the back room and made the 
nearest window. 

Unheeded, the man in the trench 
coat climbed into a car that was 
parked nearby, placed the cage on 
the scat beside him, and drove 
slowly away, a satisfied smile on his 
ugly face. 



THE BIG STINK 



111 



TEN MINUTES later Sammy 
staggered back into the front of 
the store and collapsed into an old 
wicker chair he kept behind the 
counter. He'd finally adjusted to 
the stench to the point where each 
breath didn't threaten immediate 
nausea but he was barely able to 
hold his own. 

"What happened, Wetzle," he 
gasped. 

The little Martian hadn't moved. 
He still crouched on top of the 
showcase, trembling half in fright 
and half in mortification. 

"The dwirtle, the thing in the 
cage, made me do it," he said mis- 
erably. 

"But it wasn't hurting you!" 

"Martian people have what you 
call built-in defendabic mecha- 
nism," explained Wetzle in a quav- 
ering voice. "When dwirtie is com- 
mencing hunger dance the squirters 
goes psssst for life-saving. This 
dwirtle is killer bird, most danger- 
ous thing on Mars, It stabs with 
tongue and is murder. Only spray 
from head things can drive it away. 
If I could have made control, it 
would not have happened, but 
head things are not part of think- 
er, they go off by themselves when 
dwirtles come." He let out the Mar- 
tian equivalent of a lugubrious sigh. 
"But though unwilling, I have 
brought upon my friends fwentok 
great sorrow and for this I must 
make expiation. I now turn off my 
breathers." 

The three air sacks that were 
spaced equidistantly around Wet- 
zle's body stopped their pulsing and 
in a nnatter of seconds a glaze be- 
gan to steal over his eyes. 

When Sammy realized what was 



happening, he let out a horrified 
yell. 

"For Pete's sake, Wetzle, don't! I 
got enough troubles without having 
suicides in my shop yet." 

The little Martian didn't seem to 
hear. The light of life had almost 
flickered out when Sammy grabbed 
him and started to shake him vio- 
lently. 

''Listen, dumpkof. To die isn't 
helping things, it will only make 
matters worse for me. Your — your 
death will be on my fwentok." That 
did it. Wetzle gave a sudden gasp 
and his air sacks began to pump 
convulsively, 

"Now look," said Sammy sternly. 
"It wasn't your fault, you couldn't 
help it. You just sit there and don't 
do nothing while I try and figure 
out some way to get rid of this 
stink." 

The first and obvious thing to do 
was to open the front door and air 
the shop out. This he did and 
turned on the large overhead fan to 
speed things up a bit. 

As the Martian protective odor 
billowed out into the street, there 
were immediate violent protests 
from the neighbors. O'Reilly came 
charging over from the furniture 
store next door to see what was the 
matter, only to skid to a halt when 
the full force of the stench hit his 
nostrils, 

"Hey, Rosen!" he shouted after 
he had lelrealed to a safe distance, 
"What's going on over there? You 
got my store stunk up so bad that 
all my customers are nmning out!" 

Sammy hesitated, looked at Wet- 
zle who was still hunched up mis- 
erably on the counter, and came to 
a sudden decision. The Martians 



112 



THEODORE R. COGSWELL 



were having a tough enough time 
of it as it was. Something like this 
was ail that was needed to tip the 
scales against them completely. 
Sammy had known what it was like 
to be the underdog and in spite of 
what had happened he felt a flush 
of sympathy for the unhappy little 
Martian. 

"It's nothing, O'Rtilly," he 
yelled. "I'm making a little experi- 
ment and it's not going just like 
the book says. A couple more min- 
utes and I'll have everything under 
control." 

"You'd better be quick about it," 
replied the other angrily, "or you're 
going to have a nice law suit on 
your hands." 

O'Reilly wasn't the only one who 
was objecting. As the stench spread 
up and dovMi the street, more and 
more stores were involuntarily 
evacuated and more and more 
voices joined the angry chorus de- 
manding that Sammy do something, 
and do it right away. 

Sammy tried. He tried everything 
in his stock of pharmaceuticals 
without success and at last was re- 
duced to the patent deodorants he 
carried in stock. He tried ever>' last 
stick, tube, and jar but nothing did 
any good. 

He was just moving toward the 
door to confess defeat and ask for 
suggestions when he heard the 
moan of a police siren coming down 
the street. Seconds later a squad- 
car came to a screeching stop right 
in front of the store. Two police- 
men came tumbling out, only to 
stumble to a stop and wilt as the 
odor hit them. Gagging and hold- 
ing their noses, they scrambled back 
into their car and Ijacked away un- 



til they found a spot where the 
stench was semi-bearable. 

The driver cranked down his 
window a cautious half inch and 
shouted a stern warning to the ef- 
fect that if Sammy didn't do some- 
thing about the disturbance he was 
causing, he was going to find him- 
self in serious trouble. 

"There's nothing I can do," 
shouted Sammy. "I've tried every- 
thing!" 

"Then you'd better try something 
else," snapped the driver. "You're 
maintaining a public nuisance and 
if it ain't abated within five min- 
utes, I'm going to haul you in." 

The ultimatum was greeted by a 
ragged cheer from the householders 
who had fled the flats above the 
stores on each side of Sammy's es- 
tablishment. Only one tenant still 
remained in her quarters, a retired 
burlesque queen who was in the 
midst of a prolonged and severe at- 
tack of rose fever. Even her swollen 
nostrils, however, were able to pick 
up enough of the scent to cause her 
to lean out her third story window 
and shriek somewhat dated but 
nevertheless effective obscenities. 

With Wetzle looking on helpless- 
ly, Sammy made one last desperate 
attempt at new deodorant com- 
binations, but nothing had any ef- 
fect on the horrible miasma that 
poured forth from the store. When 
five minutes by the store clock had 
passed, he appeared in front of his 
store, head hanging and feet drag- 
ging, to surrender himself to the 
law. 

Though innocent, Sammy was a 
law nbiding citizen. It wasn't his 
fault that he wasn't taken into cus- 
tody. But he had been thoroughly 



THE BIG STINK 



113 



saturated by Wetzle's protective 
spray and the passing of time 
hadn't diminished its potency. As a 
result, wherever he went he was 
protected by an invisible barrier. 

He was only half way to the 
squadcar when it suddenly darted 
away in reverse. For two blocks he 
followed it with the spectators re- 
treating sullenly in front of him, 
but every time he got within a hun- 
dred yards, there would be a sud- 
den whine of gears and the car 
would roar back to a safe distance. 

The two fMDiicemen tried every 
way they could think of to take 
possession of their prisoner; they 
even broke out gas masks but even 
these didn't help. At last they gave 
xip and drove away to place the 
case in the hands of higher authori- 
ties, leaving Sammy to trudge back 
down the street to his little drug- 
store. One hour later the Army an- 
nounced that they were moving in. 



WHEN SAMMY reached his 
store the telephone was ringing 
violently. Wearily he lifted it to his 
ear. 

"Mr. Rosen? . . . This is Mr. 
Reynolds of the Anti-Martian 
League." 

Sammy started to explode. 

"Look, Rosen," the voice contin- 
ued. "Do you or do you not want 
to get rid of that stink?" 

Sammy suddenly stopped shout- 
ing. "Sure I do," he said. "So 
what?" 

"So we can clear the whole thing 
Up in a matter of seconds if you'll 
just cooperate." 

"Every time somebody starts 
talking cooperation, I g^t more 



troubles," said Sammy bitterly. 
"The neighbors want I should co- 
operate by moving away. The city 
wants I should cooperate by going 
to jail as a public nuisance. So what 
is it you're wanting?" 

"A simple statement to the 
press," said the voice smoothly. "All 
you have to do is to inform the pa- 
pers who is really responsible for 
what happened. You might suggest 
in addition that the Martian was 
behaving in a disorderly fashion 
and that when you asked him to 
leave he responded with an unpro- 
voked gas attack." 

"If there*s going to be any tell- 
ing," said Sammy angrily, **it's go- 
ing to be about that bird." 

"What bird?" 

"Don't play dumb. The bird that 
muscleman of yours held up to the 
window." 

"Now, now," said the voice re- 
provingly. "You don't actually be- 
lieve that anybody is going to ac- 
cept such a fantastic story as that, 
do you? A bird indeed! And any- 
how, we have a dozen reliable wit- 
nesses who can testify that our Mr. 
Suggs was in Flatbush playing ca- 
nasta with an aged aunt at the time 
in question. 

"You're an intelligent man, Mr. 
Rosen. Use that intelligence. One 
little statement from you and we'll 
start decontamination at once. And 
what's more, we'll still hold open 
the offer that was made to you ear- 
lier." 

"What's perfume got to do with 
being Anti-Martian?" demanded 
Sammy. "There's something fishy 
going on." 

"The House of Arnett is just one 
of the many progressive firms who 



114 



THEODORE R. COGSWELL 



recognize the Martian danger to 
the terrestrial way of life," said 
Reynolds smoothly, in fact a shade 
too smoothly. 

iSammy didn't answer. He just 
hung up again. 



MR. WETZLE," said Sammy at 
last, "just sittmg here staring at 
each other ain't doing either of us 
any good. We got to think our way 
out." He picked up one of the red 
berries from the little pile on top 
of the counter and looked at it re- 
flectively. 

"These things, do your people 
have any use for them?" 

"No, egg-mother," said the little 
Martian. "Sometimes the diuirtle 
are eating them, but they are not 
proper food for Marslings." 

Sammy got up from his wicker 
chair and began to pace the floor. 
He'd never tried to play detective 
before and he didn't quite know 
how to go about it. 

"This company," he said finally, 
"how does it work?" 

"Isn't much work," said Wetzle. 
"Is just giving little bits of machin- 
ery for big bags of berries. The 
company has a concession for the 
whole north part that says no other 
Earthmans can come in, but they 
have only one station." 

"One thing more," said Sammy, 
trying to conceal the growing ex- 
citement in his voice. "These dwir- 
ties, can they eat anything else?" 

"All kinds of things," said Wet- 
zle. "But best of all they like Mars 
peoples like me.** 

Sammy's face fell. "That was a 
blind alley. I thought for a moment 
that maybe the company was rais- 



ing them for something or other 
and buying berries for feed." 

"I think not," volunteered the 
little Martian. "There are some 
dwirtles at the trading station but 
not lots. They are kept in cages like 
the small yellow birds you have on 
earth. The chief trading man is a 
lover of dzvirtles. We are many 
times asking for him not to keep 
them in the trading sheds so as not 
to give us bad frights when we 
bring in berries, but he is a terrible 
man. He stands and makes laugh- 
ter when the dwirtles start their 
dance and we fall down in fright 
and our sprayers go off." 

"He must nnt be able to smell so 
good," said Sammy. "Begging your 
pardon, Mr. Wetzle. but a stink 
like yon let out ain't no cause for 
laughter." 

"He's not in the trading slied. 
He stands behind a big glass win- 
dow and talks to us through a radio 
thing." 

Sammy sat and thought about 
that for a while and then shook his 
head in a bewildered fashion. 

"X don't get it," he said dolefully, 
"I just don't get it." He looked 
dawn at the little red berry he held 
in his hand and then bit into it 
cautiously. It had a harsh bitter 
flavor that made him spit in distaste 
and throw the rest of the berry 
across the room. The bitter taste 
remained and caused his mouth to 
pucktr slightly. He went back and 
rinsed his mouth out with water 
but that didn't do any good either. 

"I know one thing that will kill 
it," he said. "And I need a drink 
anyway." Out of habit he looked 
around cautiously and then pulled 
a bottle of vodka out of a cabinet 



THE BIG STINK 



115 



where he had it safely hidden from 
Sarah. 

"Here's mud in your eyes," he 
said and took down a thimbleful!. 
The results were so pleasing that he 
took another. 

And then something happened. 

He sniffed. And then sniffed 
again. Against the swirling over- 
tones of the pervading stench, 
something else was coming through. 

"Do you sinell sometliing, Wet- 
zle?" he asked. 

"Regretful, egg-mother/' said the 
little green fur ball, "But Martian 
peoples have no- smellers." 

"That makes sense," said Sam- 
my, and sniffed again. It was defi- 
' nitely stronger now, a sharp mascu- 
line fragrance like nothing he'd 
ever smelled before. It seemed to 
have a definite source but for a mo- 
ment he couldn't locate it. When he 
did he was thunderstruck. It was 
coming from his own mouth. 

It took him a couple of hours of 
trial and error before he got what 
he wanted, but Sammy hadn't 
passed third on the state pharma- 
ceutical boards for nothing. First 
there was careful grinding of the 
berries with a mortar and pestal, 
then maceration in a solution which 
contained the same enzymes as nor- 
mal saliva, and then finally reaction 
with a concentrated solution of 
ethyl alcohol. 

"We've got .it, Wetzle," he said 
quietly, holding up a beaker of a 

fjale pink solution. "We've got it at 
ast!" 

"Got what," asked the little Mar- 
tian in bewilderment. 

"The reason for both our trou- 
bles," be said as he began to sprin- 
kle the liquid around the store. 



*'Think about it. Go ask yourself 
why a big outfit like the Antx- 
Martjan League should be set up 
just to make you unhappy enough 
to go back home." 

As he talked the solution evapo- 
rated. As it did and came in contact 
with the tiny droplets of the Mar- 
tian's defensive liquid that hung 
suspended in the air and coated all 
the exposed surfaces in the store, an 
intricate chemical transformation 
took place. In a matter of seconds 
the horrible stench had disap- 
peared, leaving in its place a strange 
exciting fragrance that grew strong- 
er and stronger until at last, much 
as he enjoyed it, Sammy's head 
started reeling and he felt an urgent 
desire for fresh air. Rushing to the 
door, he threw it open and stood 
in the entrance inhaling deep 
breaths of tainted air which auto- 
matically became perfumed as they 
touched his lips. 

At each end of the street there 
was a fire line, and behind the 
ropes stood his erstwhile neighbors. 
When they saw him they started 
in howling again, and in spite of 
the half-hearted efforts of the po- 
lice, bottles, rocks, and sundry blunt 
objects began to fly through the air 
in his direction. Momentarily, that 
is, for as the new scent spread out 
through his door and down the 
street, a change came over the 
crowd. The shouting subsided to a 
puzzled muttering, and then as the 
odor became stronger, part of the 
populace began to react in a de- 
cidedly abnormal manner. 

The first to break through the 
ropes was the retired burlesque 
queen. 

"I gotta be loved!" she whooped. 



116 



THEODORE R. COGSWELL 



and dodging through the police cor- 
don, came pelting down the street 
toward Sammy. The other females 
in the crowd weren't long in fol- 
lowing suit and Sammy saw a del- 
uge of women of all shapes and 
ages come screaming toward him 
from both directions, each chanting 
her own variation of the mating 
call. Almost too late he scooted back 
into the store, slamming down the 
heavy grill work that protected win- 
dows and door as he did so. 

"That's potent stuff," he wheezed 
as he collapsed into his old wicker 
chair. "I can see now why so much 
pressure was put on to run you off 
the planet." 

Wetzle gave the triple twitch that 
was the standard Martian gesture 
of bewilderment. 

"In this small head is confused 
thinking, egg-mother," he said. 
"Would you be -md kindly as to make 
clarifications?" 

"Later. Right now I got to figure 
some way to clear the air. My wife 
Sarah ain't going to like this sud- 
den popularity of mine." 

The clearing was relatively sim- 
ple. After a few minutes of tinker- 
ing Sammy made the pleasant dis- 
covery that the new scent was sus- 
ceptible to several of the standard 
deodorants and before long both 
the store and its owner had lost the 
provocative fragrance that had 
been causing chaos in the street 
outside. 

"And now," said Sammy with a 
heartfelt sigh of relief, "I think 
maybe w-e can talk a little business." 

They did. 

When they were through Sammy 
picked up the phone and dialed a 
number. 



*'Anti-Martian League,'* said a 
voice from the other end. 

"I want to talk to Reynolds." 

"I'm very sorry but he's in con- 
ference. If you'll leave your name, 
I'll have him call you as soon as 
he's free.'* 

"Conference, shmomfcrence," 
said Sammy sternly. "You tell him 
Rosen is on the phone and wants 
to talk to him right now." 

Three seconds later he heard the 
imctuous voice. 

"We've been expecting to hear 
from you, Mr. Rosen. I assume 
you're ready to release that state- 
ment to the press?" 

"You mean you ain't heard?" 
asked Sammy. 

"Heard what?" 

"About me going into a new 
business." 

"Now, Mr. Rosen," said Rey- 
nolds soothingly, "that won*t be 
necessary. We did have to get a bit 
rough to bring you to your senses, 
but we'll make up for it. That offer 
of a flask of Venusian Leather is 
still good." 

"That's awfully kind of you," 
said Sammy, "but me and Wetzle 
have been talking things over and 
we decided that we ain't going to 
let nobody push us around. The 
reason I called was to ask if maybe 
your conscience wasn't bothering 
you enough for you to come over 
and clean up the mess you caused 
here." 

"Are you saying that you still 
won't give in?" Reynolds sounded 
incredulous. 

"That's right," said Sammy. 

A staccato burst of profanity 
came from the phone and then a 
series of reflections upon Sammy's 



THE BIG STINK 



117 



antecedents that lasted a good three 
minutes. Sammy waited patiently 
until the other ran out of breath 
and then continued: 

*'That was pretty good, but it's 
nothing to what you're going to 
hear when your boss finds out that 
his attempts to run Wetzle and his 
friends back to Mars by setting up 
a phony league have backfired in 
his face. You see, in trying to get 
rid of the big stink Wetzle made, I 
found out something that the 
House of Arnett spent a lot of 
money to keep secret — what goes 
into Venusian Leather. He paused 
for a minute to let what he had just 
said Mnk in. "Right now youVe 
talking to one half of the firm of 
Rosen and Wetzle, cut-rate per- 
fumers, manufacturers and sole 
distributors of 'Martian Leather,' 
the new perfume for men. You'll be 
seeing our slogan around once we 
get our advertising campaign going. 
It's 'Twice The Strength For Half 
The Price'." 

Galloping sounds came from the 
other end of the line as if Reynolds 
had suddenly taken to running 
across the ceiling. 

It was Sammy's turn to adopt a 
soothing tone of voice. 

"There, there," he said. "Sammy 



Rosen ain't the man to hold a 
grudge. I know that your League 
is going to be jerked out from un- 
der you as soon as old man Arnett 
hears the news, but I want you 
should know that you and your 
Mr. Suggs can always have a job 
with us. Wetzle and I are going to 
need a couple of men to take care 
of the collecting once we set up our 
new trading station on Mars. "Of 
course you won't have an air-tight 
glass cage to operate from, but it'll 
be a living." 

"And that," said Sammy happily 
as he hung up the phone, "takes 
care of that. Capital won't be any 
problem, but we got one more 
thing we got to figure out before 
we can go into production. We've 
got to find some way to get our raw 
materials without scaring your peo- 
ple half to death every time we want 
to make a collection." 

"Is full simplicity," said Wetzle, 
proud to be able to make a contri- 
bution at last. "An up like this," 
the tiny tubes rose up through his 
fur, "a little muscles squeezing like 
this, and — " 

"DON'T!" screamed Sammy. 

He was too late. 

• • • THE END 



WHAT IS YOUR SCIENCE I.Q.? 

HERE are the answers to the Science Quiz on page 103. 
How many did you get right? I — kiloparsec. 2 — Orion. 3 — 
telekinesis. 4 — Mars. 5 — absolute zero. 6 — Mercury. 7 — 
farthest. 8— 1931.9— Uranus. 10-^00. U— Venus. 12~hy- 
drogen. 13— one-half. 14 — mutadon. 15 — Aldebran. 16 — 
600,000. 17— Milky Way. 18— Neptune. 19— coma. 20— 
Mu. 




SCIENCE 



BRIEFS 



Winged Autos — Cars that look like 
planes aren't just a science fiction 
dream. General Motors has been 
testing a gas turbine auto that has 
a vertical tail fin, swept back delta 
wings and brake flaps on the wings 
to supplement the wheel brakes. 

"Fish Cakes"— The latest in "fish 
stories" is a synthetic egg white 
made from fish waste. Tests have 
shown that cakes baked with this 
substitute ingredient are as good as 
those made with real eggs. Not the 
slightest "fishy" taste either- 
Electric Fly "Chair" — If bugs keep 
building up resistance to insecti- 
cides, we may have to electrocute 
them. A new fly trap docs just that. 
Plug it into a household circuit and, 
after luring the flics with a sweet 
scent, the trap electrocutes tlicm 
and then automatically conceals 
the dead carcasses in a container. 

"Miracle" Clothes — You may soon 
be wearing clothes made of a radi- 
cally new kind of yarn. Under tests 
this synthetic has been boiled in 
acids and baked at 400 degrees for 
days without harming a single 
thread. But don't plan a new ward- 
robe just yet; industry has first call 
on this particular miracle. 

1 



Wind vs. Coal — A landscape cov- 
ered with huge windmills may seem 
rather anachronistic, but British 
scientists are working toward just 
such a goal. They are testing proto- 
types that will harness wind power 
to supplement coal powered sta- 
tions. An average wind velocity of 
20-pIus miles an hour would pro- 
duce power equal to that of coal 
and would do it as cheaply. 

Noise Killer — Loud nerve-wrack- 
ing noises may soon be completely 
stilled, A new electronic device con- 
sisting of a microphone amplifier 
and loudspeaker feedback system is 
in test stages now. Attached to the 
headrest of a plane seat it can re- 
duce to a whisper the low beat of 
the engines near a passenger's ear. 
Adaptation for use on factory ma- 
chines is a simple matter of instal- 
lation. 

Scientific Semantics — Breaking the 
language barrier has been tried be- 
fore with Esperanto, Ido, and Basic 
English. But the new scientific 
"supranational" Interlingua is 
spreading so fast that it may well 
accomplish that semantic under- 
standing which has been sought for 
so long. 

Bacteria vs. Life — We're on tlie 
road to a world devoid of bacteria, 
but scientists aren't happy about it 
at all. Large forest areas are drying 
out and land is becoming sterile be- 
cause of the extinction of bacteria 
that make life-giving humus. In 
some places the desert is encroach- 
ing so fast that the process can be 
photographed. 
IS 



SCIENCE BRIEFS 

"Everlosting" Battery — After four 
years of secret military production, 
an "everlasting" battery will soon 
be available. Using nickel cadmium 
cells in an alkaline solution, the bat- 
tery is invulnerable to shock and 
vibration, works at temperatures of 
minus 65 to plus 165 degrees, and 
resists overcharging, reverse charg- 
ing and short circuiting. It will 
even outlast the car. 

Insecticide "Injections" — Trees of 
of the future may be able to kill off 
their own particular insect enemies. 
Tests on the African Gold Coast 
have proved that when certain in- 
secticides are saturated into the 
soil around a tree, they are ab- 
sorbed through the roots, and car- 
ried throughout the entire circula- 
tory system. When insects attack 
the tree they die. Simple, isn't it? 

Mars and Saucers — The Air Force 

has found that "saucer" stories are 
always more frequent when Mars 
is "close" to the Earth. Since Mars 
will be closer in 1954 and 1956 
than it has been in the last 15 years, 
a system of cameras has been set up 
around the U.S. to clear up the 
mystery once and for all. 

Sea Farmers — The continents and 
islands of this planet have been dis- 
solving into the sea for eonsj so 
much so that future generations 
may find that the mineral, animal 
and plant resources of the sea, 
which have been nourished by this 
"land loss", are the only ones avail- 
able for practical consideration. 

Climate For Mars — Astronauts are 

seriously thinking of tampering 



119 

with the planets to provide Mars 
with an atmosphere and climate 
suitable for terrestrials. Jupiter's 
sixth planet, which is thought to 
be an ice mass, could be made to 
intercept the orbit of Mars and so 
provide some 10,000 million tons 
of water necessary to the produc- 
tion of oxygen by photosynthesis. 

Heort Revivor — A "spark plug" 
that stimulates the heart-beat and 
can literally bring a patient back to 
life without benefit of surgery is be- 
ing perfected. We can look forward 
to the day when doctors, going on 
house calls, will not only carry 
medicines in their little black bags, 
but will also have a compact, inex- 
pensive heart stimulator for emer- 
gency use. 

Paper Snow Fences — Highway snow 
fences made of paper are not a 
mad impractical dream. Tests 
made in Michigan have shown 
that paper fences are as effective as 
wooden-slat fences in stopping 
snow from drifting across highways. 

Ocean Radioactives — We may be 

mining the oceans for radioactives 
in the future. Oceanographers have 
found a heat flow from the ocean 
bottom equal to that caused by 
radioactive elements on high and 
dry continents. 

Save Your Pans — The lady of the 
house will be pleased to know that 
scorched and burned pots and. bak- 
ing pans will soon be a thing of the 
past. A plastic coating of polytetrar 
fluoroethylene on cooking utensils 
will save the day. 



120 

Tornado Destroyer — The loss of 
billions of dollars and thousands of 
lives from destructive tornados 
may sonneday be expunged from 
the records. Scientists believe that 
a guided missile with an a-bomb 
warhead could be steered into a 
baby tornado by radar to destroy it 
before it could get started on a 
really destructive rampage devas- 
tating the countryside. 



SCIENCE BRIEFS 

"lON-Conditioning" — Rooms of 
the future may well be "ion-condi- 
tioned" as well as air-conditioned 
to help combat disease and fatigue. 
Tests at Stanford Medical Center 
have shown that an atmosphere 
rich in positive ion charge is de- 
bilitating, while a negative charge 
is extremely beneficial to comfort 
and healtli, and aids immeasurably 
in disease resistance. 



A CHAT WITH THE EDITOR 

(Continued frain page 3) 



servation planes or any other avail- 
able craft, often flying In open 
cockpits in the face o f sub-zero 
weather and storms of sleet and ice 
and snow — and they smashed up 
all over the map of the United 
States. By March of 1934 the Ad- 
ministration realized it had made a 
colossal boner and gave the mail 
contracts back to the private air- 
lines. It was an absurd, costly ex- 
periment but it proved the human 
clement to be strong and coura- 
geous and capable. And, to me it 
seems, one of the most dram,atic 
chapters in the annals of the Army 
Air Force was written dxiring these 
few months. 

But the drama of Lindbergh's 
flight had touched off the spark. 
Within a few years air travel be- 
came routine. People no longer 
gawked at the sound of a motor 
roaring overhead. Since then mili- 
tary planes have been going higher 
and faster every day. Civilian air 
transportation has been made safer, 
faster and more luxurious. Today, 
out on the Pacific coast, the ulti- 
mate in air travel is almost ready 
for test flight. Boeing Airplane 
Company is now putting the finish- 



ing touches on a sky giant designed 
to become the first jet plane to fly 
the Atlantic non-stop. It will carry 
80 to 100 passengers and will make 
the trip at a leisurely average of 550 
miles per hour, or about six hours 
for the crossing! Look for it in the 
headlines around August or Sep- 
tember. 

Incidentally, if you want to do 
some easy "boning up" on early 
aviation, get a copy of Wings Over 
America by Harry Bruno (pub- 
lished in 1942) and have a lot of 
fun. Harry Bruno grew up with all 
the heroes and characters and 
"drum beaters" of the early days of 
aviation and his story, void of de- 
tails or technical angles, is a simple, 
straight-forward narrative chock 
full of the people and events that 
preceded the world of aviation we 
know today. 

So, in these old stories, written 
during the birth pangs of aviation, 
is portrayed the human element — 
the curious, reckless men, with an 
insatiable appetite for adventure, 
who were the instruments and 
guinea pigs of modern flight — the 
kind who will pioneer the space 
flight of tomorrow. — jlq 




MOONQUAKES — This huge fissure trapping o luckless operator and his 
tractor is the result of a Moonquake. The dry crust of the Moon, which 
burned itself out countless centuries ago, is susceptible to mony treacherous 
changes which could snuff out men, mochmery and entire boses in an instant. 
In oddition to the quake menace, there are probably large oreos where 
travel would be dangerous because of thin crusts of dust and rock conceding 
deep chasms. 



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IF Magazine, Kingston, New York 



Enclosed find $!3.30 (check or money order) for -whirli please send me IF 
Magazine for thf iifxt 1 3 months. It is understood that the first issue is a 
TRIAL issue and thiit, if I do not like it, all I hiivc to do is let you 
know ;ind you will return the full subscription price at once!